PrixCar is mostly known for its processing, storage and transport of passenger and commercial vehicles in Australia and operates from 25 depots in strategic locations across the country and is regarded as the dominant player in its field.
It would have always been expected that the demise of the local automobile manufacturing industry would have a significant effect upon an operation such as PrixCar, yet the entire team has adopted a flexible mindset which has allowed PrixCar to indeed flourish despite the many challenges the Industry faces.
Throw in the effects of the COVID-19 situation and the vehicle transportation landscape has altered significantly in just a few years.
Previously, much of the car carrying business was centered around distribution ex local factories located in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Today’s reality of total importation means that new passenger vehicles are collected from seven different sea port locations around the country such as Port Kembla, NSW and Webb Dock, VIC and distributed nationally which creates logistical pressures because the number of vehicles in storage yards is now very much reduced from the previous scenario.
“We needed to adapt to these new challenges by finding ways to innovate the supply chain and increase our flexibility,” says PrixCar National Fleet Manager Goran Koviloski who joined PrixCar some four years ago. “However, we must continue to deliver any innovation with our commitment to high quality service and safety standards.”
Born in Germany of Macedonian parents, Goran came to Australia for a ‘look around’ 25 years ago and like so many other young Europeans who visit here, he never went back.
Although he trained as a diesel mechanic back in Germany, Goran started at Patrick Autocare as a driver before progressing into management roles at that company over the next 19 years before moving to PrixCar.
The PrixCar fleet presently includes over 200 of its own prime movers, over 400 trailers plus around 200 subcontractors who are an integral part of the overall operation and are encouraged to follow the company’s trends in vehicle choice and specification.
Trailing equipment includes a few road trains and a small number of B-doubles with the over-riding majority of combinations being single semi-trailers because they are more suited to getting in and out of car dealerships in metropolitan settings. Vehicle dealerships (and their OEM parent companies) provide the majority of PrixCar’s client base.
During the past few years more than $52 million has been invested in new transport equipment including over 200 new trailers, many of which have been engineered to PrixCar’s requirements by NCC Maintenance and Trailers in Melbourne and manufactured in Asia. The current average age of trucks and trailers across more than 500 pieces of equipment is an impressive 2.9 years.
“I’ve worked with most car carrying trailer manufacturers and about five years ago I decided to go in a bit of a different direction and I got in contact with a local engineer at NCC and said ‘This is the trailer I’d like you to build’. We ended up ordering 155 units over the last three years.”
Inherent in the safety of the design is what is termed on-ground loading which uses a winch device to transfer the deck that has one of the vehicles from the trailer on it, to the above-cab frame location.
Goran has acquired 30 new trucks so far this year including 14 Kenworth T410SAR prime movers. Although PrixCar operates a diverse prime mover fleet with many leading and valued brand partners, the Kenworth T410SAR meets the criteria for a short bonneted, low-roof and short wheel-based prime mover to suit the vagaries of vehicle transport, and this has driven some of the recent purchase decisions. The typical combination enables the carrying of a car on the high mounted cab-frame followed by a 48 foot (14.6 metre) dual deck trailer to achieve the capability to carry up to eight vehicles at a time.
“I have been surrounded with Kenworths since I’ve started working in the car carrying Industry back in 1998,” says Goran.
“Having a locally built prime mover like the T410 ensures we get the key features required for car haulage included in new designs. It’s also built to suit our new trailers offering both safety and load efficiency features which makes the job of our drivers so much easier. Our drivers appreciate that we spec them as if we in the Fleet team are buying them for ourselves, and go ‘full throttle’ with lots of lights, super singles and bull bars where we can.”
Front axle weight is extremely crucial in car-carrying, especially when loaded with a vehicle on the overhead frame, and the set-forward location of the SAR’s front axle allows for a reasonably sized vehicle to be carried in that location without exceeding permissible axle weights.
The Kenworth’s T410SAR’as proprietary driveline results in a very homogenous truck where the PACCAR 460hp 13 litre MX engine is well matched to the 12-speed PACCAR automated manual transmission.
“Having PACCAR producing their own engine and transmission is certainly something we have been looking forward to,” says Goran.
“Recently I took a loaded rig through some back streets and along the Ring Road and I must say that I was very pleased with the truck, particularly the interior with its integrated sleeper. The truck is extremely quiet on the inside, the visibility for the driver is astonishing and the smooth gear changes made me feel like I was driving my private car.”
Goran says his drivers are saying that the combination of the traditional Kenworth SAR look with the 2.1 metre wide T410 cab and its integrated sleeper, plus the extensive suite of safety features make it a joy to drive and operate. “We believe that the T410 is going to serve us well here.”
As a national organisation, PrixCar appreciates the support and service of PACCAR’s own national dealer network.
“The dealer network is very important, and I view our association with PACCAR to be that of a solid partnership, and as a customer I can take comfort in knowing that we’re not only covered by things like warranties, but are also well respected and looked after throughout the country.”
In return Goran respects the management at PACCAR and describes them as key supporters in the industry.