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Maximising the Maximus

The latest version of Korean truck manufacturer Daewoo’s Maximus KL3TX 6×4 tractor is scheduled to star at the official launch of the brand next month at the Futuroad Expo at Automechanika Johannesburg. FOCUS offers insights into what drives the Tata-owned nameplate.

It’s perceived to be one of the most imposing but stylish-looking trucks on the road. It’s Daewoo’s Maximus KL3TX, a long-haul heavyweight that’s scheduled to star as the brand’s centrepiece at next month’s Futuroad Expo at Automechanika Johannesburg.

The trucking show, which is held every second year, is the only international trade fair of its kind to be staged in Africa. It targets visitors from across the sub-Saharan region and has replaced the South African Truck and Bus Show on the automotive calendar.

Thanks to its commanding presence, Daewoo’s King of the Road is likely to prove to be one of the most popular attractions at the event. Blending a United States-derived drivetrain with European-designed cab architecture, the vehicle is assembled from semi-knocked-down kits at a Tata-owned plant at Rosslyn, near Pretoria.

And the Maximus will not be the only Daewoo on display. Also being launched officially at the expo is the latest version of the brand’s 6×4 freight carrier, the K7CEF. These two products will complement the existing range of a ten-cubic-metre tipper, the K5DEF; and a six-cubic-metre mixer, the K5MVF.

Headquartered in India, Tata bought Daewoo, an admired Korean brand, in 2004 and has subsequently expanded the nameplate’s operations to include 70 countries on five continents. Respected for high quality componentry as well as reliability, durability and a low lifecycle cost, the brand is perceived to set the highest standards for performance, dynamics, safety and features.

With close to 120 KL3TXs already on South Africa’s roads thanks to a pilot programme initiated by Daewoo SA in which vehicles were sold only to selected transport companies – many of which were running fleets consisting of Scanias, Volvos, Freightliners and Internationals – the model has been widely tested under local conditions, as well as cross-border operations, emerging with glowing testimonials.

Value for money aspects and impeccable levels of Daewoo service impressed Piet Stemmet, owner of PA Stemmet Vervoer, a Boksburg-based transport company which focuses on moving all types of cargo – livestock and furniture apart – in and around South Africa.

Representatives of Daewoo Trucks and Gay Transport at the handover of the latest Maximus truck tractor to join the transporter’s fleet.

The company operates a mixed fleet that exceeds 20 trucks, the majority of which haul tautliner trailers across six of the country’s nine provinces. Typically completing a number of smaller deliveries in and around country towns, the vehicles usually cover around 5 000 km a month.

So impressed was Stemmet with his initial two Maximus champions that he recently added another three KL3TXs to the fleet. “My first two Daewoo trucks are now a year old and have been performing well in terms of fuel economy, power, comfort and, most importantly, reliability and uptime. They are easy to drive, with comfortable air-suspended seats and above average ride quality.

“We haven’t experienced any mechanical problems and, combined with all the other attributes the Maximus offers – and factoring in the professional levels of service I have received from Daewoo – I decided to increase the number of KL3TXs in the fleet. Also, the standard warranty of three years or 600 000 km is a great comfort – it shows the confidence Daewoo SA has in its product. I am 100 percent satisfied,” he says.

Equally impressed by the Maximus is Jacques Botha, who heads up Gauteng-based Gay Transport, a family owned business, started by his father, Ben. He says that following a decision to improve efficiencies within the company, he was in a position earlier this year to acquire new trucks.

It was important to Botha that the vehicles matched Gay Transport’s productive business philosophy, and he decided on the Maximus, taking delivery of two KL3TXs in March. Both trucks were subsequently put through a testing phase and, having passed the company’s evaluation period with aplomb, two more Maximus 6×4 truck tractors were added to the fleet in June.

Reflecting on the decision to buy the Daewoos, Botha explains that his quest for efficiency and cost containment led him to the long-haul champion, which is equipped with a Cummins engine and a choice of 18-speed Eaton or 12-speed ZF gearbox – brands of which his company has solid knowledge and work experience.

He chose the Eaton gearbox, which, he says, enables excellent fuel consumption and, combined with the Cummins engine, highest possible average speeds. Today, the vehicles are used to deliver loads to Cape Town, Durban and Tzaneen, as well as across the border into eSwatini and Lesotho. With service intervals of 30 000 km, the first two KL3TXs in his fleet have already completed their first minor services.

“Fuel consumption in all of the trucks is great,” says Botha. “We run at about 2,25 litres per kilometre pulling tautliner trailers across the country. The next best thing is the 24-volt electrical system, which is a significant upgrade over 12-volt systems used with this engine by other truck brands. I can’t see there being any problems with this anymore.”

The 14,9-litre Cummins engine used in the Maximus is both powerful and reliable. “Long hills are ascended comfortably, meaning our average speeds are superior. My drivers complain because, in accordance with government regulations, the trucks are governed to 80 km/h,” Botha says dryly.

The Novus HCV 6×4 freight carrier.

He adds that the Daewoo driving experience is also a noteworthy characteristic. “This type of cab is comfortable and our drivers know it well. Also, they know how to extract the best torque from the engine. We haven’t had to use any breakdown services yet, but I must say the Daewoo service department is right up there with the best in the industry.”

Daewoo Assist, a 24-hour call centre, is in place to help with issues that might arise on the road with parts always available from a newly introduced, dedicated Daewoo parts facility. In fact, there are 91 touch points dedicated to serving the brand throughout the country, with skilled technicians able to respond quickly to customer requirements.

In partnering with Cummins and ZF, optimal uptime can be ensured, which is one of the main focuses for Daewoo. Additionally, the dynamic parts system has all but eliminated waiting times for spares – about 97 percent of items are now readily available for picking, with a simplified selection process helping to eliminate incorrect choices.

With various models making up Daewoo’s local line-up, the choice is wide – mixers, tippers, rigids and a variety of freight carriers among them. While all the vehicles are perceived as enticing, the Maximus 6×4 truck tractor is seen as the jewel in the crown. Its Cummins ISX Euro-3 engine produces 358 kW (480 hp) and 2 509 Nm, while the truck’s chassis frame is said to be manufactured from the strongest steel in use in the auto industry.

Vehicles in the Novus range feature Doosan engines, the K5DEF tipper and K7CEF freight carrier utilising in-line, six-cylinder units that produce 250 kW and 1 421 Nm, and the K5MVF mixer equipped with a V8 that develops 287 kW and 1 569 Nm.

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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