Croner an entirely new platform
UD Trucks Southern Africa (UDTSA) launched its Croner truck last week at the Kyalami Raceway in Midrand, Johannesburg.
The worldwide launch of the Croner took place in Thailand two months ago, the same country from which Southern Africa’s Croner components are sourced and packed, before they are shipped for assembly in Rosslyn, Pretoria.
Croner is a replacement for the UD 60 to UD 100 models that have been in service for 20 years in the Southern African region. The name Croner is derived from Greek mythology and represents Chronos, the God of Time.
Jacques Michel, President Volvo Trucks Asia Sales, said the launch of the Croner was a huge milestone for UD Trucks globally. It is a brand new medium-duty truck platform, although it is classed as a Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV) in South Africa.
UDTSA says the range will target the distribution, off-road, mining, construction, waste management, and agriculture transport sectors. It says the vehicle has been thoroughly tested in South Africa, with particular attention paid to fuel consumption.
Michel said the Croner has been designed and developed to provide high levels of customer satisfaction and strong business outcomes for its customers. He added that the Volvo Group was fully behind UD Trucks.
He explained that there was never a good or bad time to enter the truck market. “We want to regain the market share UD Trucks used to have in the HCV segment in South Africa. SKD production has already begun in Pretoria and we have secured enough vehicles to meet initial sales demands,” he assured.
“The most important thing to do is listen to the voice of the customer,” he continued. “It’s about what our dealers are doing on a daily basis and how we can improve. It’s a passion and determination that we have in UD Trucks.”
He said he was aware that many distribution companies in South Africa are under pressure from their suppliers to run environmentally-friendlier vehicles. “UD Trucks can supply trucks that run on CNG, but the current demand doesn’t warrant their local introduction.”
Gert Swanepoel, managing director of UDTSA, added that the Kyalami launch event was a celebration for the brand in South Africa.
“I’m very excited to see the Croner in this market and in the region outside of South Africa.”
He said while new truck sales in 2017 showed a decline, the numbers were still pretty good. He added there had been positive sales growth over the last five years in the Croner’s HCV segment.
The truck is available with two different diesel engines; a five-litre unit developing either 180hp or 210hp and a 250hp or 280hp eight-litre unit. All engines feature common-rail fuel injection and are at Euro 3 emission levels. No EGR is fitted.
There is a choice between a manual gearbox and an automatic, except for the dump truck/tipper model which is a full automatic only. There are also two different types of cabs: a day cab and a sleeper cab.
“The Allison fully automatic transmission is well-known in South Africa,” says Swanepoel. “They will give us the running costs our customers need. The manual transmissions are either six-speed or nine-speed, while the Allison transmissions are both six-speed.”
Here it is: the new #Croner from UD Trucks Southern Africa!
Posted by Road Transport News on Tuesday, 6 June 2017
Rory Schulz, marketing director of UDTSA, revealed a big challenge with the Croner was making sure the vehicle’s pricing was competitive.
He emphasised that the Croner was not a badge-engineered Eicher. “It is a Japanese product for UD Trucks’ export markets,” he explained.
Schulz said that, for many years, UD Trucks had compared fully automatic transmissions to AMTs, with the cost of development a leading consideration.
“The truck is built to be versatile and not dedicated to niche transport applications. The advancement of technology within Allison provided UD Trucks with a unique opportunity,” he indicated.
“The arrival of Croner is a testament to the Volvo Group’s confidence in South Africa to go forward.”
The amount of local content used in the truck is not legislated and is currently based purely on economics. “Many other initiatives are being worked on, with the help of government, in this regard,” indicated Schulz.
He describes the warranty on the vehicle as “competitive”, with service intervals stationed 30 000km apart.
“South Africa is unique. We’re looking at the vehicles that will have service contracts. Sometimes customers do 40 000km a year and our workshops don’t see that vehicle. We’re looking at a little bit longer for the bigger engines as well, but nothing has been finalised.”
UD Trucks’ home country Japan currently has the most advanced emissions standards in the world, while South Africa continues to delay its decision on how to produce cleaner fuels.
“I’ve been a crusader around environmental issues to get people to really understand it. There are two issues on the table. When we talk about Euro 3, Euro 4 and Euro 5, those emission levels are, in reality, dealing with the particulate matter, NOx levels and carcinogenic hydrocarbons.
“Of course, we need to look after people’s health. That development has been done within the Volvo Group. There is a big rift between developing countries and developed countries and South Africa is problematic within that.
“But far more important for me, from an environmental perspective, is the Greenhouse gas. There we are looking at Co2 emissions. That is where the issue of global warming comes from. We can only reduce that by having the most fuel-efficient vehicles available,” Schulz said.