MAN Announces Adaptive Cruise Control as Standard

Penske New Zealand is now supplying all on-highway vehicles within the MAN TGS and TGX range with adaptive cruise control (ACC) as standard as part of an update to MAN’s safety package.

Factory orders placed for MAN TGS and TGX trucks will now include ACC which automatically regulates velocity and distance in relation to the vehicle in front when travelling over 25 km/h.

Increasing safety for all road users, the introduction of ACC will further increase the already impressive safety features on offer.

“The TGS and TGX platforms already include key safety features such as electronic stability program which incorporates dynamic stability and roll over prevention,” said Dean Hoverd, national sales manager – trucks, Penske New Zealand.

“And now with the addition of ACC as standard, we are further increasing the safety for drivers, passengers, and other road users.

“There are many systems on the market that use radar only, however MAN’s market-leading ACC comprises both radar and camera to detect speed and distance, and adapts the speed of the vehicle including braking if necessary.

“We are certain that drivers will find ACC very useful for both long haul travel and also heavily populated roads.

“When combining the safety package with great fuel economy and low whole-of-life costs, MAN really does offer a very competitive overall package that makes good business sense.”

For more information on MAN’s ACC, please visit:

MAN TGX interior (camera and ACC switch highlighted)

Sky High Service

If you thought preparing dinner for the extended family is a logistical headache, spare a thought for the team at LSG Sky Chefs at Auckland Airport, who prepare up to 20,000 meals each day, loading them on to some 75 different aircraft at all hours of the
day and night. The LSG Sky Chefs Auckland operation is a medium-sized facility, part of their global catering network comprising 208 customer service centres in 54 countries.
The Auckland facility is impressive. A major building programme has just been completed with a new 11,000sq metre building designed to keep up with increasing airline demand.
Properties and Facilities Manager Jim Boekhorst enlightened us on the 500 skilled kitchen staff, high local quality ingredients, ever changing menus and regular food tasting  sessions. He then reminded us that this area was off limits, for security reasons. It was, after all, the road transport operation we were here to see.

LSG Sky Chefs has a fleet of 23 road vehicles in Auckland, most of which are high loader
trucks designed to transport food out to waiting aircraft and load it on board. As passenger aircraft have grown, the task has become more complex especially with the introduction of the new Airbus A380, which brought with it a fresh set of challenges.
An A380 is almost 73m long and 80m across its vast wings; it carries up to 850  passengers and is stickered for a gross take-off weight of 560 tonnes. The major  challenge for ground crews is that the loading doors for the upper deck are 8.3m above ground, well outside the reach of the older generation of high loader trucks. Two of those doors are over the wings, making access more difficult.

LSG Sky Chefs Auckland had to invest in three new state-of-the art high loader trucks to service the A380s and it is the latest of these, based on a three-axle MAN chassis, that we are specifically interested in. In MAN terminology, the truck is a 23.290 (6×2) with a gross weight of 23 tonnes, a 290hp engine and single drive/lazy axle setup bringing up the rear.
The TGM is the middle weight workhorse of the MAN range, available in 4×2, 4×4, 6×2, 6×4 and 8×4 configurations up to 30 tonnes GVM. Power comes from the company’s D0836 six cylinder in-line diesel with ratings of 250hp, 290hp or 340hp, all of which produce maximum power at 2300rpm.

The D0836 incorporates the latest technology from Europe with twin turbochargers, four
valves per cylinder and electronically controlled common rail fuel injection. It meets Euro 5 by means of a cooled EGR system. The net result is a responsive but surprisingly quiet engine with full torque of 1150Nm (for the 290hp version) available anywhere from 1200 to 1750rpm. There is plenty of retarding action as well from MAN’s built-in engine brake. Standard transmission for the TGM range is MAN’s 12- speed TipMatic automated manual,
although a 9-speed ZF manual is available as an option. The TipMatic, built by ZF, is a constant mesh design with automated clutch operation and ratios from 10.37 to one through to an overdrive 0.81 top gear.

From the driver’s seat normal driving is simplicity itself; no clutch pedal and a rotary dial in the centre console to select drive, neutral or reverse. There is additional position at either end of the selector marked Dm and Rm for low speed manoeuvring such as coupling up to a trailer. If desired, the transmission can be operated manually with up and down shifts selected by a stalk on the left side of the steering column. MAN’s Easy Start system is also fitted which holds the brakes on briefly until the accelerator is pressed, avoiding the possibility of the truck rolling backwards during a hill start.

Chassis design also reflects current European practice with electronically controlled air suspension at the rear and disc brakes all round with ABS, traction control and stability control. The TGM has a clear top flange and a multitude of pre-drilled holes intended to make body fitment easier. The LSG Sky Chefs truck is fitted with a basic yet comfortable three-seater day cab, but MAN has dual cab and full-sized sleeper options. That high loader bodywork sits right down over the cab in the lowered position, helping keep the centre of gravity down for on-road operation.

The trip from the LSG Sky Chefs’ Auckland facility to the aircraft ramp is only a kilometre or so but the first section is on public roads, so all vehicles have to comply with normal mass and dimension limits. High loader catering bodies are a specialist bit of gear and CTV Doll of Thailand is the largest such manufacturer of these and other dedicated
aircraft support vehicles. LSG Sky Chefs new MAN TGM came off its normal production line in Steyr, Austria. It was transferred to a truck modification centre to have the trailing axle fitted, then shipped to CTV Doll in Thailand for body fitment and finally sent on to New Zealand.

Basically, the high loader has a box van body with doors at either end which can be raised to the required height by means of a massive scissor lift mechanism. The truck has to be accurately positioned in relation to the aircraft door and stabilised by hydraulic legs before lifting. Power is taken from a high capacity PTO-driven pump on the MAN transmission, meaning a lot of engine hours are clocked up for relatively small road mileage.
To reach the over-wing doors on the A380, the latest CTV Doll unit has an additional  function to slide the front section of the high loader body to one side. Outgoing food, beverages, magazines, audio headsets and other requirements are then wheeled onto the aircraft in trolleys and secured in the appropriate galleys.

There is not a lot of volume or weight involved – around 500kgs per galley – but this new unit has a permissible payload of 4500kg, meaning two or three outgoing flights can be serviced without returning to the catering facility. Tare weight of the truck is a hefty 17.5 tonnes, requiring the move to a 6×2 chassis whereas previous high loader units fitted nicely on a 4×2. The MAN 23.290 is a model designed specifically for the Australian and New Zealand market where lower axle weights apply and tare weight is critical. Use of 19.5in tyres keeps chassis height down and provides better stability for high loads.

Driver Ali started out on LSG Sky Chefs’ older 4×2 trucks and finds the new MAN easy to drive. “Just like a big car” he explained during our brief run out to the tarmac where three A380s were due in. Some body roll is evident on roundabouts reminding us of the substantial tare weight otherwise, as Ali says, it would be easy to forget you are driving a heavy truck. There looks to be acres of concrete out on the tarmac but with numerous other vehicles engaged in servicing one aircraft, manoeuvrability and good vision are critical. There also seems to be a lot of waiting around in this job, but once the plane is safely parked up, everyone has to move quickly. Delaying an international flight after the scheduled departure time costs thousands of dollars a minute and LSG Sky Chefs does everything possible to ensure the reliability of its service. All the fleet are well maintained and local contractor Transmech NZ Ltd is on call around the clock in the event of breakdowns.

The MAN TGM certainly works well in this specialised role but has much broader applications across the distribution and construction sector.
Dean Hoverd, national sales manager for Penske Commercial Vehicles, points out the
traditional price advantage enjoyed by Japanese makers is narrowing and that MAN is well
placed to increase its market share. He feels better fuel economy, cab comforts and safety are major selling points for MAN and that models tailored specifically for the New Zealand market will appeal to a wider range of buyers. We will look at a different application of the MAN TGM in a future issue.

Low whole of life costs seal MAN deal

A New Zealand transport operator has dramatically reduced fuel consumption as well as maintenance and repair costs since purchasing three MAN trucks to service contract freight tasks. After 30 years in the transport industry on both sides of the Tasman, Graham Redington was a longtime admirer of American trucks. However, despite this his company Northchill’s fleet now has a distinctly European accent with the addition of three MAN TGX 26.540BLS 6×4 prime movers in January this year.

The MANs have led Redington to become a convert to the benefits of European efficiency and economy, a MAN spokesman says. Since returning to his native New Zealand in the late 1990s, after many years in Australia as both a linehaul driver and transport company owner, Redington has built the Northchill fleet up and it now includes 10 prime movers and trailers operating from Pukekohe.

Two of the MAN TGX 26.540BLS 6×4 prime movers are the first XXL extra high roof cab TGX models to be sold in New Zealand, while the other is fitted with the regular XLS sleeper cab. Graham Redington says he had always admired MAN for its engineering and design but it has only been since Penske Commercial Vehicles became the distributor for Australia and New Zealand that he was prepared to purchase them for the Northchill fleet.
The low operating costs are the biggest attraction so far for Graham Redington. Just five months into their life on fleet the MANs are averaging an impressive 2.5L/km running at around 38 tonnes. In addition MAN’s contract maintenance pricing meant the three TGXs cost less than half that of Northchill’s American trucks when it comes to repair and maintenance.

“I have a fixed cost maintenance contract of 8.1 cents per kilometre on the MANs, which means we have a very clear view of running costs so we can accurately quote on new contracts and jobs with the knowledge that we will have no hidden costs or surprises eating into profit,” says Redington. “Combine all that with MAN’s 70,000km service intervals and you’ve got a truck that delivers very low ‘whole-of-life’ operating costs.
“It also makes the MANs a very effective and profitable truck in our fleet, particularly given the fact that their initial purchase price was around $100,000 less than the American trucks we have bought in the past,” he adds. Emphasising Graham Redington’s analytical approach to the task of running the Northchill Fleet all the trucks are fitted with Drivecam GPS based camera systems, which track the vehicles and record critical incidents and driver errors.

The Northchill TGX 26.540s are powered by MAN’s 540hp D26 12.4L in-line 6-cylinder 4-valve electronically controlled common rail turbo-diesel, which boasts impressive
peak torque of 2500Nm. These are mated to MAN’s 12-speed Tipmatic automated manual
transmission. The two XXL cab 540s are painted in the rich green colours of NZ Freightlines and for much of the year they operate under a contract running a trailer shuttle carrying produce from Auckland to the Cook Straight ferry terminal in Wellington and return. During winter when the seasonal demand decreases they run general freight often to and from the port of Tauranga, often carrying steel from the NZ Steel mill at Glenbrook, near Pukekohe.

The other MAN TGX in the Northchill fleet is fitted with the regular XLS cab and is finished in a vivid yellow colour scheme. This truck has a similar mechanical spec to the other MANs and is being used on a contract with NZ supermarket chain New World delivering foodstuffs around the North Island.

We’ve updated our Privacy Policy

Please note that due to recent changes to Australian privacy legislation, MAN Automotive Imports has reviewed and updated its Privacy Policy.

Click here to view our Privacy Policy. The Privacy Policy explains how your personal information will be collected, used, disclosed and maintained as well as how you may contact our Privacy Officer to seek access or correction to the information.

Bush MAN

Bush MAN logging


ARTICLE: Thanks to NZ Trucking Magazine…

When it came time for Trevor Pilbrow to put another logger to work in the bush up Northland way, he knew it wouldn’t be an American rig. Some time ago he was convinced that the Europeans have the edge in the bush, arguing that comfort is hard to beat when you are driving on bush tracks for a living. Despite his great affection for Scania, he made a choice that might have surprised many in the region…

We don’t often get up as far as Northland, but when we do, we wonder why we don’t make the effort more often. We mostly only hear bad press about the region with rogue councils, hard-times, closures and high unemployment dominating the headlines.

However, the area is a scenic gem and there are plenty of hard workers in the region if you know where to look – with the forestry sector being one of the most industrious. Frankly, the number of logging rigs on the roads up there nearly outnumbers the campervans, at this time of year at least. Come the summer and the road-maggots will soon outnumber everything else.

The amount of country under Pinus up that way is quite staggering really, and to prove the point, Marsden Point rates at about second equalas the biggest log handling port in the country, after Port Tauranga.

Sitting cheek to jowl with the oil refinery, the juxtaposition of logs with a background of the stainless steel refinery seems odd.

Of course, the diesel in the tanks of the army of logging trucks originates from “The Point” and the locals take quite a pride in having this complex in their back yard. So they should too, it’s as important to the nation’s economy as is logging. It’s just a bit shinier, although there are a few trucks on the road that’ll give it a run for its money.

We did a rough mental count-up of the trucks pulling into the C3 log handling yard and even though our maths still isn’t all that good, the overwhelming majority of logging rigs originated from America.

And Rotorua and Tauranga. Yep, there’s so much logging going on up in the North these days that there is a healthy representation of some of the bigger names from further south and east on the roads.

Without making lists of who’s up there, the RFH and Lamberts of the world still like their American iron, as they should, American hardware has long been proven to last the distance. They don’t have it all their own way however, and the numbers of European loggers cruising the roads is steadily growing with Scania seemingly the most popular choice, although Mercedes- Benz Actros are well represented in the local area too, mostly courtesy of Smith and Davies.

There is an odd MAN out however, with Trevor Pilbrow’s TGS 35.540 MAN working in the bush and flying the flag for Germany alongside the Actros rigs floating around.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about hearing that this MAN was working in Northland’s forests,isthat there aren’t more at work under logs given MAN’s reputation for producing some of the toughest military and multi-axle drive vehicles this side of the iron-curtain.

With the New Zealand government’s recent purchase of $135 million worth of Rheinmetall- MAN military trucks to replace the current tired Mercedes-Benz fleet, the brand is certainly back in the news again.

Anybody familiar with what’s going on in Afghanistan will have seen similar Rheinmetall- MAN trucks toiling away in the background as the British Army, amongst many others, are outfitted with them. Our Government has followed their lead, as the brand has given outstanding service in that battle-ground.

While that purchase may have given the brand some instant media exposure and is a very significant purchase, MAN is one of those brands that even though it has promised much in this country, has never quite had the impact on the market that it could have. Some would point the finger, in decades past, at a support network and a distributorship that has passed through a number of hands.

Those that did invest in the truck and understood its strengths and weaknesses became loyal to the brand and there were a number of companies that would have still been buying them decade after decade, particularly down South, if the continuity of backup and supply had remained unbroken. However, the brand never slipped off the radar completely and all that seems history now with the brand really starting to hit its straps and roughly 150 percent more MAN trucks have gone on the road in just the last eight years over the previous 13 since MAN Automotive Imports (NZ) Ltd picked up the
distributorship reins.

While MAN’s overseas battleground honours might count for little in the New Zealand bush, the steep grades, mud, grit and dust that a logging truck experiences in the bush, particularly in Northland which has its fair share of all, provides just as tough an operating environment as what the military could expect to put their vehicles through.

In fact, the tonnages that leave Marsden Point indicate that the winterless north is a bit of a myth. In summer C3 will handle about 9,000 tonne of logs a day, while at this time of year the extraction rates are around 5,000 tonne, due to the damp months reducing the areas that can be logged.

The port exported around 2.1 million tonne of logs last year and there are around 400 truck movements per day through the two log handlingfacilities at Marsden, so the trucks in this region do their fair share of sweating.

The port exported around 2.1 million tonne of logs last year and there are around 400 truck movements per day through the two log handling facilities at Marsden, so the trucks in this region do their fair share of sweating.

Trev’s an interesting bloke, as his 12-years as a publican indicate; he knows how to hold a conversation and he is great company as we get the lower Northland tour.

He hails from Maungaturoto, and once had the lease on the magnificent local pub, which dominates the town. It looks so iconic that it’s probably got an historic places trust sticker on it, and if it doesn’t, it should. He’s spent 35 years as a volunteer fireman in the town and was chief for 13 of them. “When I had the hotel I managed to attend most of the fires,” he said, “but driving trucks makes it a bit harder to be around when they need you.”

Trev actually started off as a line mechanic for the power board, and spent 15 years working his way up through the system before he and his then wife reckoned they were too comfortable and wanted more of a challenge out of life. Hence the 12 years as a publican.

After the pub, Trev wanted another challenge and moved into trucking. After approaching Harry Semenoff of Semco, he took on an International T2670 eight-wheeler under contract to Semco carting milk powder and cement. Trev carted Kauri Dairy Company product “to all points in the North Island” as he put it, but mainly from Maungaturoto to the port of Auckland for export.

He drove that Inter for three years before trading it for a 1993 Foden equipped with a 410 Cummins STI powerplant, which was a jump up from the 400 Cummins big-cam he had under his foot in the T-liner.

His first new truck followed two and a half years later when he put a Mitsubishi Shogun 430 horse eight-wheeler to work. Trev said he was “tickled pink,” to have a new truck after just four or five years in the industry.

The new Roadmaster trailer behind the Shogun was the first of the nine metre decks and could carry eight pallets without double-stacking to achieve a 25.2 tonne load and 44-tonne gross. “Everyone liked it, the forklift drivers, the truckies and it was better for the product,” Trev pointed out.

He’d backload with cement and, on occasion, have to drag Portland product down to Auckland at short notice. “That’s the beauty of trucks over trains,” he said, “Eight or nine hours later after picking up the phone you’ve got 25 tonne of cement in the yard.

Trev liked his Mitsi, “It was a nice economical truck and it had no unscheduled breakdowns. Keith Andrews Trucks did a marvelous job with maintenance.” He clocked 815,000 kilometres in that truck and apart from a turbo at 500,000 clicks and an over-fueling injector that burned a hole in a piston, the truck gave no trouble.

After seven years with Semco, he joined Te Kauwhata Transport for a few years, before Kaitaia Transport, which was a division of United Carriers, took him and the Shogun on as an owner driver. His relationship with United proved fertile. After a while he put his first logging truck to work, a Scania R500 V8, that was followed in successive years by a couple of 530 horse Isuzus’ to give him three loggers as well as the Mitsi.

Trev put the Scania to work as, he said, “I was quite convinced the European was the way to go over American. They are comfortable, reliable and appeal to drivers. It was a beautiful truck to drive on those long runs.” Ther Scania roamed as far north as Te Kao, “that’s about half an hour before you get wet”, up near Cape Reinga he said, and did about 740 kilometres per day.

Life was pretty good for Trev. Four trucks and things were ticking along nicely, until Toll bought out the United Group, “and the rates didn’t seem to keep up with the RUC increases,” as Trev dryly put it. “At least 20 of the owner drivers disappeared out of the United Group, some just left the keys in the ignition and walked away,” he said.

“I myself lost the three log trucks when I was with Toll, they weren’t viable to run. There was no shortage of logs, but it was difficult to match expenses. It was the end of an era.”

“I still had my freight truck but I sold it and bought a R500 Scania and had it painted in Toll’s turquoise livery. I nearly shed half a tear for the Mitsubishi when she went,” he said.

However, after a couple of years, his run was changed from Kaitaia to Gisborne carting veneer, to a Kaitaia to Auckland run, which meant he had to employ another driver as the loading and unloading times “didn’t make it viable as I needed to put another driver on to make it work.”

“I decided to sell and sold it [the R500] within a month after advertising it in your (New Zealand Trucking) magazine. It’s in Christchurch now pulling a ten metre four-axle semi in Mainfreight colours, and it looks fantastic,” he said.

Trev decided to have a break from road transport and spent a summer doing agricultural contracting and then started doing casual driving for Craig of G C Stokes Ltd, a log truck operator.

“I enjoy my driving, and after a while I decided to approach Craig to see if he wanted a new truck in his system.” Trev said.

Craig was obviously keen, and Trev went truck hunting. “I very nearly bought one of those new Fusos with the Merc motor,” but reassessed the situation and thought, “I can afford something a little more European.”

“Garry Crane took me for a drive in the MAN and all I could do was to compare it to the Scanias,” Trev said, “I came out of a beautiful truck that I consider to be one of the best on the road [the R500], and I don’t think this gives anything away to the Scania.”

We can see why Trev chose a European truck, “If anything drives me nuts it’s the quality of the roads around here,” he pointed out, and the Northland roads certainly are a mixed bag. There are potholes in this region that’ll make wheel alignment specialists retire wealthy.

I don’t think that we’ll get any arguments about how European trucks can iron out rough roads better than trucks from other regions, but even then, we note that Trev is Mr Smooth when it comes to positioning his rig to miss as many as possible.

The logger will work as far south as the Brynderwyns and as far north as Kaikohe and coast to coast in between.

He didn’t see the need to put CTi on the truck, “there’s only one skid-site out of 40 that I’m not allowed in,” and the expense of installing CTi aside, he’s quite impressed by the standard traction capabilities of the big MAN, which is diff and cross-lock equipped and rides on airbags. “You might need the occasional push at the back of the trailer by the loader to get youstarted on some sites, but it goes well up here. I seldom need to engage the diff-locks, although the sandy dry conditions catch you if you don’t watch out.”

But by far and away, his favourite toy is the ZF Intarder unit that impresses both for its hold back and also for how quiet it is in operation.

The MAN has quite a handy spec. It boasts 2500Nm (1844lb/ft) of torque that plateaus from just 1050rpm to 1350rpm, and the engine seems to love hugging those low numbers. It’ll chug away quite happily where most of us would probably be wanting to drop a cog or two if you were driving by ear, however with maximum torque developed just north of 1000 revs the truck loves hovering low down in the greenery on the tacho.

The engine is MAN’s D2676 12.419 litre straight six and you should hear it coming down some steep slope with the truck hanging off the retarder. It’s got a lovely note, we wouldn’t mind it as our ring tone on the iPhone, but it’s not loud enough for our old ears. Nobody is going to get upset at the noise this truck makes, in town or in the bush.

And that was one of the very points that Trev was so keen on when he put a European to work, the lack of noise and the cab refinement. The engine is Euro 5 and is quite frugal already. It’s achieving 2.1 – 2.2km/l at the moment and sups AdBlue at 60-litres a week, or around 2,500km he estimated.

“The truck is doing everything I wanted it to do,” Trev pointed out. It has to be said that not everybody might achieve these figures as Trev is gentle on the gear, as you’ll find most of the older owner drivers are, but Trev is even kinder than many of them again. “I bought it with fuel economy in mind,” he pointed out.

“The [530hp] Isuzus were good on the flat, but the MAN outperforms them where torque is required in the hills. It’s an improvement on the Scania, he reckons, but having said that, it’s got forty more horsepower,” he said in the Scania’s defence.

The twelve speed ZF-12AS 2531 OD MAN TipMatic transmission makes good use of the torque with crisp changes that rival anything else that comes out of Europe or Scandinavia.

Like all electronically controlled manual transmissions, it’ll need a bit of understanding to ensure that you get the best out of the truck, with the occasional flick into manual when the truck needs a bit of a run up to something, or if it’s going to make an unnecessary change at the top of a rise for instance, however we noted that Trev seemed to keep it in auto for most of the time we spent with him.

“There are some places in the bush where it’s good to have a manual,” he pointed out. “The Scanias have a choice of manual or auto and I probably would have bought a manual if I’d bought one of them and would have probably gone manual if MAN offered the same choice. But now that I’ve sat in this for eight or nine months I might not now,” he grudgingly admitted. Trev said that it certainly makes for an easy day on the job. “You really knew you’d done a day’s work after getting out of the Mitsi and
making all those gear changes, but I can do a big day in this and still feel fresh at the end of it and be ready for more.”

He enjoyed his time on general freight, especially running around Auckland, “with all the pick ups and drop offs, but I like the logs for the continuity of work. Every morning there’s logs to be picked up somewhere.”

“My first day on the logs consisted of following a log truck in and doing what he did and from then on I was on my own,” he remembers. Things have moved along a bit since those days, and he says all road transport has become a bit overregulated, and some of the fun has gone out of it, but he loves how the equipment has improved.

This MAN’s cab feels a little tighter on space than the TGX sleeper cabbed MAN working forGuy Small we looked at last year, not so much because of the lack of a bed, but more because the fridge that the TGX has under the bed, is now located between the seats.

“I’m considering taking out the fridge in winter for the extra space, although it was a great thing to have over this last hot summer and the drought,” he remembers. “It was great to be able to reach in and pull out another cold drink all day long.”

The truck, in Trev’s opinion, does suffer a little from lack of storage space having only a set of shallow drawers in the centre console, and a bit over the windscreen, but then it’s not a sleeper cab and the luxury of the fridge would definitely free up a bit of space that could be better utilised. There is no outside access storage and Trev built his own boxes and customised the truck to suit himself. He’s added six LED lights around the combination, because at this time of year his first three or four hours on the job are spent working in the dark.

Trev commented, “It’s a very still cab, it doesn’t bounce around and doesn’t vibrate,” he especially likes the “heavy duty large heated electric mirrors” with the overhanging one to see what’s in front of the truck. Space shortcomings aside, Trev summed up the office as “spacious,comfortable and quiet”, and we agree.

If he does have a complaint, it’s that there “is no suitable cup holder” and he’s quite right, there’s nowhere to sit a drink.

The truck tares at 11,360kg with bolsters and half a tank of fuel, and the Kraft trailer tares at 5,420kg. He originally put the trailer to work in 2009, the multi bolster four-axle unit rides on air-suspension.

Trev gets his instructions via the MTData Portable Data Terminal in the cab which is geonetworked, and loads and clears data as the day progresses. Craig Stokes runs an efficient operation and we see some of his other rigs around as the drive day unfolds. Trev is happy to be working alongside the company trucks. “It works well,” he summed up.

One of the most attractive features of the truck is the 60,000km fluid change periods, when all oils are changed, including the diffs, with synthetic oils right through. He also pointed out that “you won’t find any grease nipples on this truck,” and rates the low maintenance aspect of the vehicle as one of its most valuable advantages.

This model MAN won Truck of the Year back in 2008 in Europe, so the cab has been around for a little while now and they are nearly as common as Volkswagens in Europe, but probably due to the scarcity of the model on our roads, it looks fresh and striking to our eyes.

We doubt that the New Zealand Army buying up large with Rheinmetall-MAN products, including 8×8 drives, will influence the country’s road transport operators’ buying habits, but you never know, it might help focus the spotlight back on MAN.

There is a clash of the Titans quietly unfolding in Europe as the big truck manufacturers square up to each other, having come to accept that there won’t be a magic bullet in their domestic market they are hungry for business in other more relatively healthy economies. Even far flung markets, such as ours, and MAN owner Volkswagen has positioned itself to lead the charge.

If Trev’s MAN proves itself in the bush, as the army’s MANs are sure to in the desert plateau, it may be that MAN might start carving itself a slice of the logging market, to add to the increasing numbers of linehaul trucks they are putting on our roads.