LAUNCH REVIEW

UD TRUCKS LAUNCHES NEW QUESTER FOR MEENA MARKETS

UD Trucks unveiled the ‘New Quester’ heavy-duty trucks in the Middle East, East and North Africa (MEENA) at a notable launch event held in Bahrain, where the attendees also had the chance to get behind the wheel of this new range of trucks and get a real feel for the performance of these vehicles at the Bahrain International Circuit. Waste & Recycling Middle East travelled to Bahrain to see it first-hand and experience the brand new features and capabilities. Swaliha Shanavas writes.

UD Trucks launched the New Quester in the Middle East, East and North Africa (MEENA) choosing Bahrain, one of their key markets, as the launch platform. This new version of the brand’s heavy-duty truck introduces a range of enhancements that will enable logistics companies across the region to tackle critical industry challenges and boost their bottom line through Smart Logistics.

Fuel efficiency, productivity, connectivity, and supporting and developing drivers are top priorities for fleets and transport companies in the MEENA region and the new range addresses these challenges with new features such as ESCOT (Easy Safe Controlled Transmission) and UD Telematics. Building on proven robustness and reliability, the New Quester introduces key features such as ESCOT automated manual transmission (AMT), engines with higher horsepower and user-friendly telematics to deliver greater fuel efficiency, productivity, driver efficiency, safety and uptime.

Mourad Hedna, President of UD Trucks MEENA, said, “The truck industry in the region is changing rapidly and customers are increasingly conscious of the total cost of ownership. With New Quester we have the ideal product to address these needs. Moreover, new Quester combines the best of three worlds: UD Trucks’ strong Japanese heritage and craftsmanship; Volvo Group’s innovative technology; and our strong local support for our valued customers, which we call our Gemba spirit.”

Speaking at the Media Roundtable Briefing a few hours after the company revealed their new truck range, Hedna said, when the company initially launched the Quester, they listened carefully to the customers to understand what they were looking for. The customer was looking for a simple, robust truck that was doing the job. So they launched the Quester in many markets in the region successfully and “the clients were very happy” with what UD offered, he elaborated. “But then the market is changing and customer demands are getting more sophisticated. The total cost of ownership becomes a serious challenge in the Middle East and Africa as it is worldwide.” Based on this, they collected feedback from all their customers and came up with the new Quester, Hedna noted.

They developed it in order to improve the operating costs of their customers, “so with our ESCOT, for instance, we have signifi cant saving in fuel efficiency. Then we looked at the challenge around the shortage of skilled drivers and made a lot of improvements in terms of suspension and size of the cab. Again, with the ESCOT there is less fatigue for the drivers who will spend more time on their safety on the road rather than on changing the gears.” The third thing they looked at carefully was how they could help their customers improve their bottom line and the uptime of the trucks, and help them grow, said Hedna.

The new range aims to boost productivity and profitability for business owners and logistics companies, for whom a rise in fuel costs consequently increases operating costs. For this, the new Quester delivers enhanced fuel efficiency of up to 10% over the current Quester; and this is aided by the Escot automated manual transmission, lighter tare weight and optimised driveline. Fuel efficiency is also affected by the operating conditions, driving behaviour and vehicle maintenance. So Escot includes software which optimises gear shifting according to the engine revs, vehicle speed, loading weight and even road gradient. The smart system also includes a sensor that will select the optimum gear automatically instead of assuming a first gear selection.

Jacques Michel, Senior Vice President, International Sales, UD Trucks views the new Quester as a ‘game changer’ in the business. He emphasised that one major change they have made is the ESCOT gearbox. The technology was first introduced in the ‘90s and since then more than 90,000 models fitted with this technology have been sold worldwide. “So the gear box is not 100 percent new, and the reliability and durability is well tested,” said Michel at the media briefi ng. Considering the climatic conditions in the Middle East, he said they had rigorously tested the truck with the new configuration to ensure its suitability here, “so we’ve basically put the truck in the toughest application”.

The New Quester with ESCOT automatically selects the optimal gear at the right time based on the operating condition. This takes away the need for manual gear shifting which, depending on the transportation operations, happens 1,000 to 1,500 times a day.

In addition, the New Quester also aims to help businesses expand the pool of driving talent with an easy-to operate gear lever that uses a straight shifting pattern. In certain target markets, for example, the number of female Quester drivers is said to be increasing due to its drivability.

They are focusing on helping improve the business of our customers and one of the main focuses has been on launching the new innovation, reducing cost of ownership and fuel consumption, Michel remarked. “In this region we see the oil price going up and the fuel consumption is a big cost for the customers. By launching the new ESCOT we have been able to reduce our fuel consumption by up to 10 percent for our customers. That’s a massive cost reduction and that has come through with a lot of innovation in our design and our product.”

First of all with the Escot gearbox the automatic manual transmission, which has been existing in the trucks since 1990 in trucks in different parts of the world, “we have a reliable gearbox, which is an intelligent automated gearbox, which basically will have much better fuel effi ciency, much less wear and tear, and much less gear shifting and improving safety,” he stressed, also adding that they have designed the vehicle with a much lighter gearbox and have worked on the chassis to reduce weight. “We have reduced the weight of the truck up to one ton on some applications that’s allowing the customer to get a much bigger payload and a much better bottom line for his trip and fi xed cost, also improving fuel consumption.” One key point the Michel highlighted was the “Japanese heritage and the craftsmanship”.

The new range is equipped with UD Telematics, which make it possible to connect directly to UD Trucks workshops to monitor and detect each vehicle’s condition and service needs before a potential emergency occurs. Preventive maintenance analysis guides customers via monthly driving behaviour and fuel consumption reports, ensuring higher uptime and optimised fuel economy over time. They have added a lot of features along with many functions embedded with their Telematics, geofencing, fuel efficiency, follow up and so on, “so that we don’t supply only the truck, but also a complete solution to support our customers in the region,” Hedna underlined.

The key message they wanted to convey to the market was that “for customers that are comfortable with manual transmission, we have it (and a good one at that). And for those who prefer the AMT, we have that solution as well,” said Hedna, adding that UD Trucks is now offering more than what many other manufacturers from different parts of the world are offering.

Responding to a point as to whether the range is now complete in the region in terms of their offering, Michel said, “It is the biggest range that UD has ever had in this region. And it is very important that we satisfy our customers with what we have. But we are always ensuring that we continue developing the trucks as per the requirements at any given time.” It seems the new range of trucks will live up to UD’s commitment to “Going the Extra Mile” for customers’businesses.

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At the Media Roundtable Briefing held at the Bahrain International Circuit,  Mourad Hedna, President of UD Trucks MEENA spoke to Waste & Recycling Middle East about UD Trucks’ keen interest and presence in the Waste Management sector with their dedicated trucks designed, tested and tailored to the requirements of customers in the Middle East. Following are excerpts:

Mourad Hedna
President, UD Trucks MEENA

What is your view on the MEENA markets and what are the opportunities associated with waste management in the region?

I’m glad you raised that question because we have been discussing extensively about logistics and construction. Actually, when I started with my team we thought if we were to put special focus on one other segment, it would be waste management. This is simply because we have the complete range of heavy duty and medium duty trucks. And there are not many players on the market that have this combination. In addition, we have a lot of flexibilities. We could easily get any variant that we wanted and this pushed us to think about waste management. And since then UD Trucks have won a lot of important deals. So now we are present in Jeddah; there are more than 100 UD trucks running in waste management. We also won a good waste management project in Riyadh this year. Thus, we have over 100 trucks and are still supplying them right now. Last year was also a very good success story for us as we won a waste management project in Abu Dhabi, because in UAE this segment used to be reserved for Europeans, and it was the first time that UD Trucks was there and we delivered more than 100 trucks before the end of the year.

These were key milestones and right now we are very active on two other big projects in waste management. I cannot reveal the details right now, but maybe in three or four months I can tell you where we are present.

What gives UD Trucks the edge in this region?

I think the edge fi rst is that previously there were many contractors or other entities that were not looking closely at the budget and it was more about the major brands, prestige, etc. Now, under tough market conditions, the focus is on getting the best truck for the job, but one that is most cost-effective. And this is one of the value propositions of UD Trucks to say “we have all that you need” and much more than that. As I’d earlier mentioned, the flexibility we have is an added advantage. Because in waste management it’s quite a mix of applications and these two platforms we have – heavy duty and medium duty, will cover all the needs for waste management. Both the Quester and the Croner are popular as they are designed to make superstructure installation easy. They can be adapted for all kinds of assignments be it the compactor, tipper, sweeper and other applications.

What about the market share?

We are looking to have in each waste management segment, at least 25 percent market share in the Middle East. We have not yet gone aggressively into the East and North Africa market, but we are definitely looking at it.