Moving Iveco out of the shadows

By: Steve Brooks

Iveco's Dandenong plant is prolific, but is it time for an upgrade?

Moving Iveco out of the shadows
Ageless ACCO. There have long been suggestions of a major makeover for the veteran model, but so far it’s just talk. Could this be the year?


As productive and successful as the operations of Paccar and VGA are, it will be a very long time yet before either can even start thinking about replacing Iveco’s vast Dandenong (Victoria) facility as the most prolific truck production plant in Australian history.

Since the factory was opened in 1952 by the once-great International Harvester company, more than 230,000 trucks have rolled out of the cavernous facility.

Things have, of course, changed dramatically since the glory days of IH, and the factory’s future has at times been the subject of much speculation, most of it questioning the economic viability of such a large plant producing a modest number of trucks. 

Yet despite the death of International Harvester, the subsequent creation of International Trucks Australia and finally, acquisition by Iveco Trucks Australia, the Dandenong site continues to produce trucks and buses.

Production is, however, a tiny trickle of what it once was as Iveco struggles to gain market momentum, particularly in the booming heavy-duty sector, where it finished 2017 with a scant 4.6 per cent of the market.

Nonetheless, the stalwart ACCO is still manufactured in Dandenong with up to 85 per cent local componentry, though many wonder how long this lone survivor of International’s halcyon years can continue without a substantial upgrade. Iveco insiders have often alluded to the creation of a dramatically modernised ACCO but, so far, it has been little more than whispers.

Maybe this will be the year when the market will actually see something akin to a more modern ACCO capable of withstanding the endless assault by competitors, especially those armed with Euro 6 compliance who have gouged deep into the model’s traditional applications in concrete and waste.

Better still, the emergence of a heavily revamped ACCO would almost certainly bolster investment in local production and, in the big scheme of things, that can only be a good thing for local employment.  

Still, ACCO isn’t the only model put together in Dandenong. According to a company overview of local production, "The company employs approximately 150 workers in the manufacturing process and has a team of 25 engineers involved in local product research and development."

Along with ACCO, Iveco’s other locally produced models include the Powerstar conventional range, Stralis AS-L and AD/AT cab-over line-up, and the Metro and Delta bus chassis. More recently, Iveco has started assembly at Dandenong of the Stralis ATi 6x2 and 6x4 models, previously fully imported from Europe.

Even so, extracting information from Iveco is akin to pulling teeth with plastic pliers. For instance, a simple request for the number of trucks either manufactured or assembled at Dandenong last year drew nothing more than the claim that 2017 "saw a 69 per cent increase in locally built Iveco models. It was the company’s best local production performance since 2014".

Whatever the numbers, though, any increase in local production is an increase worth having.


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