Two new additions to the UD Trucks Southern Africa vehicle range are expected to be game changers, according to the Japanese original equipment manufacturer (OEM). MARISKA MORRIS reports.
In March, UD Trucks Southern Africa introduced two new additions to the range of vehicles for its South African clientele at a launch held at Sun City. In total it has launched four new models in three years, with the Kuzer and new Quester aimed at disrupting their respective sectors.
The Kuzer will act as a re-entry into the South African light-duty medium commercial vehicle segment for UD Trucks, while the new Quester improves on its predecessor with the same name, which was launched in South Africa in 2015.
At the launch, Jacques Michel, president at Volvo Group Trucks Asia and JVs Sales, said: “Our biggest focus is on customer success. If our customers are successful, we are successful. What is important is to bring solutions to their problems and create opportunities to grow and develop their businesses. These new models represent some big game changers that we are bringing to South Africa.”
The core focus in the development of the new models was empowering customers to grow their business with increased payload and reduced operational costs. This was done by modifying the vehicles, implementing built-in telematics and new technology, as well as focusing on improving driver behaviour.
Rory Schulz, marketing director at UD Trucks Southern Africa, noted: “We are offering a single Kuzer model variant at this stage – the RKB150. Our renowned Japanese technology is at the heart of vehicle. We have incorporated a world-class engine-management system, advanced fuel-injection and made this vehicle perfect for urban distribution.”
To do this, UD Trucks has designed the Kuzer to be adapted for use in a number of applications. It can operate as a small tipper at urban construction sites, or run as a small compacter.
The engine is equipped with various electronics to assist with rough and steep terrain. It has been classified in a different class to its peers, which allows the vehicle to legally exceed the 80 km/h speed restriction placed on nine-tonne vehicles.
The Kuzer has a higher average speed with a lightweight chassis and wider frame to assist with the higher speed, but also to give it the best turning circle in its class. The OEM is also focused on keeping its customers on the road and productive.
“The serviceability of a vehicle is becoming more important to ensure we are giving our customers the maximum uptime,” Schulz noted. “We are supporting this through our dealer network and our mobile workshops. Advanced on-board UD diagnostics are also available.”
The telematics comes standard with both the Kuzer and Quester with an option for clients to make use of the services. It enables the UD Trucks technicians to remotely monitor the health of the vehicle. They can also be proactive in their maintenance and determine the parts required before a UD Trucks mobile workshop services the vehicle at the client.
In addition, the telematics enables UD Trucks to assist with driver behaviour. A fuel-coaching system is on the vehicle to alert the driver of any incorrect behaviour, which can then be corrected. Better driver behaviour impacts on fuel cost – the biggest operating cost for transport operators.
To further assist with fuel efficiency, UD Trucks Southern Africa has implemented new Escot transmission technology to make shifting gears smooth and easy on both the Kuzer and Quester.
A very simple shift pattern has been installed that is similar to the one found in passenger vehicles with reverse, drive, neutral and park. The transmission is, by default, set to eco mode in which the transmission and vehicle communicate.
“We have a manual override, so the driver can go out of the default setting if necessary. However, we’ve deliberately set it in eco mode to ensure we provide our clients with the best possible fuel consumption,” Schulz said.
UD Trucks estimates that the technology can reduce fuel costs by as much as ten percent depending on the skill and behaviour of the driver. Fewer gear changes also impacts driver fatigue – another big focal point for UD Trucks in the two new models.
Schulz explained: “For driver comfort, we have gone for a big cab on the Kuzer. There are plenty of adjustments on the driver seats and we’ve improved the steering, as well as the ergonomics between the seat, steering and instrument clusters to provide better comfort for drivers.
“The door is also slightly bigger than one would expect of a vehicle in this class. This is to assist the driver, who needs to climb in and out the vehicle with multiple deliveries in a day, for example. It is quite a tough job and we want to make life as easy as possible for them.”
The Kuzer also has a dual-panel cabin for increased safety with increased visibility, better ventilation and increased collision safety to reduce driver fatigue, but also to keep the driver safe in the case of an accident.
The new Quester is fitted with very similar technology to that of the Kuzer. UD Trucks wanted the remodelled vehicle to be more fuel-efficient and lighter.
“We believe that the new Quester will answer some of the challenges being faced by our customers, who need to be more productive. The rising cost of fuel is most certainly one of the biggest challenges, especially in South Africa,” Schulz said.
“They want to burn as little fuel as possible, while carrying as much as possible. The only way we can provide them with a better payload is by making sure our vehicles are as light as possible.”
The new Quester is nearly a tonne lighter than its predecessor. The reduction of 800 kg came from parts like the truck-tractor rims and the fuel tank, which are now aluminium. With less weight, the new Quester is able to provide a higher payload.
The Quester range also offers 440 hp (328 kW) and 370 hp (276 kW) freight carriers that can double up as construction vehicles or be used in rugged terrain. In closing, Schulz noted: “We believe the new Quester will be one of the most competitive truck tractors and freight carriers in the market.”
Swanepoel concluded: “There’s a lot more to come. It is exciting times for UD Trucks and the future is very bright. Watch this space!”