“We’re getting smashed with new technologies, amazing things, this industry has never evolved as fast. I’ve been in this industry now nearly 40 years, the evolution, the R&D, the globalisation of our economies, and major supply chains like ours and our suppliers. It is staggering what’s going on out there and how fast this is moving. But like laptops and like phones, something that’s created today might very well be obsolete tomorrow. So one of the things we advise is, because there is so much going on, let’s just be a little bit cautious and a little bit careful.”
That’s a long quote from Tony Kerr, Isuzu Australia Limited’s national fleet sales manager since 2018, speaking at the 2023 IPWEA fleet conference. As an ambassador for Australia’s biggest truck seller, Kerr well known to many in the fleet community.
I believe he is about to retire, and as I was going over some notes from recent events I kept being called back to this story about Kerr because he has a take on the transition to low emissions that’s more cautionary than most.
At the 2022 IPWEA fleet conference Kerr gave an address where he warned about getting carried away with the decarbonisation trend taking hold in other parts of the world. To be sure, Australia was at the time being governed by the Liberal National Coalition and lacked incentives and policies to advance take-up of electric vehicles.
“I just ask everyone who looks at purchasing fleet that they temper a little bit the enthusiasm of our boards, our directors, our CEOs, our general managers and senior people who all want to make the jump to go and buy an electric truck,” said Kerr, adding, “The technology is evolving that fast right now that no-one really knows what it is even going to look like in 12 months time, 18 months time.”
That was March 2022, and in March 2023, Kerr prepared the audience for Isuzu’s introduction of electric trucks to Australia.
They’re coming, he said. But again he had a strong message to impart. “The key message of crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.”
Isuzu Australia Ltd showed off its new N series EV truck at the Brisbane Truck Show in May. The truck, which was developed for the Japanese market, will be put into pilot tests in Australia with last-mile delivery groups and local councils in the last quarter of 2023. It is expected to go on sale in Australia in 2024.
“It’s something we have been working on for sometime as we’ve sought to comprehensively understand how commercial ZEVs can meet our customers’ needs, in line with the available technology and operating parameters,” said Grant Cooper, IAL Chief of Strategy, speaking about the N series entry into Australia.
Meanwhile, Kerr, referring to the the N series in a preview at the IPWEA 2023 fleet conference said it had been developed to be flexible and to suit a variety of powertrains — to suit traditional internal combustion engines and battery electric.
He said the theme of the N Series was “choose your future”. “That theme is very pertinent. And it’s very relevant for the people, particularly in this room, have lots of different applications,” said Kerr.
P.S. – Tony Kerr retired in July 2023. All the best Tony and thanks for your contributions to the industry.