No triskaideka­pho­bia here

UD shows its in­tent with the re­lease of 13 new mod­els in its ex­tra heavy range

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

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.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

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.

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