Like lots of Kiwi kids, Hamish Bennett has fond memories of making, “Brrmmm, brrmmm” engine noises while playing with trucks in the sandpit. Unlike lots of other kids though, Bennett had a fairly-good inkling his fascination with trucks wasn’t just a phase.
He was right. This, now grown-up, Kiwi is currently in Sweden in charge of a team shaping the future of truck design and development for one of the world’s leading truck manufacturers – Scania.
“I was certainly into trucks as a young fella.
“Dad worked in the industry and has always been a role model for me (Maurice Bennett, worked for Keith Andrew Motors – a Fuso distributor/dealer), but I probably didn’t think I’d graduate from the sandpits of Huntly and Hamilton to go on to play a role in – in some capacity – in every new Scania truck design for the last 20 years,” reflects Bennett.
In between those sandpits and Stockholm – his current domicile at Scania HQ – Hamish managed to squeeze in an engineering and commerce degree from Auckland University where he was awarded a ‘dream’ three month scholarship to attend Scania’s product development team in vehicle dynamics.
Unlike his earlier sandpit intuition though, he didn’t know those three months would turn into a 20-year career in Sweden with Scania.
Two offers would ultimately determine his Swedish fate. The first one, a three year offer from Scania at the end of his scholarship, followed a little later by his own offer of marriage to his Swedish girlfriend.
And there’s been plenty of highlights since.
From ‘living his dream’ of vehicle testing proto-type, state of the art trucks around race tracks, Bennett’s role morphed into product strategy and design for the international trucking giant.
“My responsibilities included everything from identifying and setting trends in R&D, customer/market demand as well as vehicle technology.”
And Bennett says the results of some of his more recent work (typical development projects span 3-5 years) is set to hit New Zealand roads soon.
“Like the just-launched in Europe, new V8 engine range that doesn’t only feature a record level of power but vastly improved fuel efficiency too. Total fuel savings can reach up to six percent or more – presenting a massive difference, both for operators and the climate.”
Bennett’s all-time personal favourite Scania truck just happens to sit at the very top of this latest V8 range – the Scania 770 S-line.
“It’s the most powerful, factory-built truck engine in production today,” he says proudly.
Future, electrified transports are also at the top of Scania’s agenda, and Bennett also had a hand in their new E-range that’s rolling out in Europe next year, with work also underway to get them out to New Zealand as soon as possible.
“New Zealand might be a small market on the global scale for Scania, but it is a very important one,” says Bennett.
“It’s quite cool that I also get to hear on a regular basis – all the way over here at Scania HQ – about the impressive journey Scania New Zealand is on. I know Scania HQ has made significant long term investments there to grow our relationships with Kiwi customers even further and develop additional business opportunities.”
Bennett likes to think of the result of his efforts being enjoyed in New Zealand, because he hasn’t had many other Kiwi connections at all during his time at Scania.
“I remember, soon after I arrived, around 2001, bumping into a Maori guy who was working as a mechanic at Scania HQ. I think he was here as part of his OE, but there’s been no other Kiwis at all since then. Just Aussies”, he says, “which helps with the banter during rugby season… depending on results.”
Speaking of results, he knows he’s achieved a big one in securing his ‘dream career’ at Scania.
He misses New Zealand’s climate, nature and beaches, but above all he misses his family and friends. However, he knows that with his well-established life in Scandinavia, this ‘Kiwi in Sweden’ won’t be home to stay – or play in our sandpits – any time soon.
But some things will never change. He still catches himself going, “Brrmmm brrmmm,” every now and then… at work.