No triskaidekaphobia here
UD shows its intent with the release of 13 new models in its extra heavy range
SO confident is UD Trucks in its new Quester range that the company last week, on Friday the 13th, launched 13 models of these extra-heavy trucks. On hand to drive several of the trucks was the vice president of product strategy at UD Trucks, Nobuhiko Kishi. He told Wheels the Quester was a first for UD, which traditionally designed trucks for Japan and then exported them to the rest of the world.
Kishi said the Quester was designed according to the needs expressed by fleet operators in modernising markets in Africa, and will probably not be sold in Japan. He pointed out the Quester range comes with the bare minimum of on board computers controlling the two engines from the Volvo Group, and these computers controlled only the most basic functions to ensure their durability in dusty, shaking conditions.
Rory Schulz, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa said the new range will be assembled from semi-knocked down kits by the company’s plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, where the assemblers have already been trained in the new procedures and technologies.
Asked how UD’s Quon, which was designed for Japan’s smooth roads, would cope with the tough rival in its own stable, Schulz said the Quester range will “simply enhance our offering to the market”.
NO MORE DIESEL THIEVING
Among the 13 models, my pick of the bunch is an 8x4 model. Like the other 12 models, it comes standard with an innovative telematics system that features built-in fuel coaching and UD’s new three-year or 150 000 km UD Basic service contract, but more importantly, it monitors the volume of diesel in the tank.
Design engineer and product planning specialist at UD Trucks at UD, Heinrich van As, explained to Wheels that if there is less diesel in the tank at start up than what there was at shut down, the fleet operator will get an SMS informing him to check up.
He said it could be the tank suffered a hole on the rough forestry and farm roads the Quester is designed to drive on, but it’s more likely the driver is stealing diesel.
Asked what he looked for in a new truck, South Africa’s most fuel-efficient driver in 2014, Reginald Naidoo from Eshowe, told Wheels there are three things to consider before buying a lorry — fuel, fuel, and fuel.
Schulz had good news for Naidoo, promising: “The new [Quester] range will cut fuel costs and maximise uptime, giving fleet owners quick dependable payback that will help them succeed in their business.”
What Schulz could not say yet was what the Quester trucks could cost.
PUNCH-UP IN THE 400HP AREA
Naidoo said the Quester adds welcome competition in the 400 horsepower arena, and the use of the Volvo D9 and D12 engines should make them very light on diesel, given the right driver. But he warned UD they will have to work hard to compete with the latest offerings from Tata and Isuzu.
While the proven combo of a Cummins engine with a nine-speed ZF transmission in the Tata Prima will not use diesel as efficiently as the D9 Volvo engine matched to a 12-speed ZF gear box, Tata is offering a game changing four-year or 450 000 km warranty on each of the Prima models, compared to UD’s three-year or 150 000 km UD Basic service contract. • Driving impressions gathered at a launch sponsored by UD.
On of 13 new models from UD, the Quester faces adds welcome competition to the 400hp arena, where it faces serious competition from Tata and Isuzu.