A new Quest(er)
UD Trucks has traditionally produced vehicles for its domestic market in Japan, which were then adapted for other countries. The Quester has, however, been built with global developing markets in mind.
Says Rory Schulz, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa: “Traditionally UD products were developed with mainly the domestic Japanese market in mind. The Quester range is the first in a new generation of UD Trucks specifically developed for growth markets across the world, including the very unique African market.”
The development of this new extra-heavy truck range started back in 2007, when the company joined the Volvo Group as one of its global brands. The UD Trucks project team then travelled to customers in eight developing markets to get feedback, and experience each site’s unique operational environment.
“This is a milestone and a new era for UD Trucks,” emphasises Torbjörn Christensson, president of the Volvo Group Southern Africa. “Research and development costs are extremely high in today’s business environment. For many individual brands, it is really difficult to finance such a big project. The strength of the Group has, however, enabled us to develop this unique range that is aimed specifically at emerging and developing markets.”
UD Trucks definitely did its homework … “More than 400 full-time experts from different nationalities have contributed to the design, development and production of the Quester range and all its offerings,” Schulz points out. “We have spent 1,5 million engineering hours and 65 000 test hours to ensure that Quester delivers on its promises in actual operating conditions.”
These labours enabled UD Trucks to produce 13 model derivatives including freight carriers, truck tractors, rigids and specific construction applications such as tippers and mixers. “The Quester offers us the opportunity to have a dedicated 6×2 unit. For the first time, we have now gained access to the 8×4 segments in the market,” Schulz explains.
He continues: “We have two engine options: an eight litre and an 11 litre, to provide the correct power and torque that will be required for the applications for which the Quester is intended.” This new addition to the UD stable is, according to the company, ideally suited to industry segments such as agriculture, forestry and paper, public utilities, building and construction, mining and petrochemical.
UD specifically developed the engines with wide torque bands to adjust to all operating conditions, such as high-traffic scenarios, as well as for operations on tarred and gravel roads, and, of course, for cruising conditions.
The eight-litre GH8E engine is turbocharged with an air-to-air intercooler and delivers 243 kW at 2 200 r/min, as well as 1 200 Nm of torque between 1 400 and 1 600 r/min.
The 11-litre GH11E engine offers 1 734 Nm at low revolutions and delivers 278 kW of power at 1 900 r/min. The UD Extra Engine Brake, which uses the engine as an auxiliary braking device, is offered on the 11-litre engine derivatives. “We are also mindful of future changes to emission regulations,” Schulz points out. “We can bring vehicles up to a Euro-5 level into the country in the future, so that will be taken care of as we go forward as well.”
Quester utilises UD Syncro transmissions. For the 11-litre engine there are nine- or 12-speed options available, while the eight-litre engine range has a nine-speed transmission. It has an input torque of up to 2 000 Nm on both transmissions.
For rough and hilly operations, the Quester offers hub reduction for the 6x4R, 8x4R and 6x4T configurations. The Quester’s rear-axle housing is made from fabricated steel to handle heavy loads. The 6x2R configurations can be provided with a bogie lifting axle, which is used to lift the axle in an unladen condition.
The Quester brings with it another first for UD Trucks … a new, interactive telematics system, which can monitor fuel economy and even fuel theft, has been included as standard on all Quester models. The system, which is managed by the UD Trucks call centre, basically monitors the “heartbeat” of the truck.
It provides real-time positioning, information on preventative maintenance and manages the breakdown assistance. It gives fleet owners and UD dealers all the information they need to do the required preventative maintenance on time, and to schedule standard services more efficiently.
“The operations centre will be able to see if a particular driver is continuously driving the vehicle in an efficient manner. If not, the driver can be contacted and the behaviour corrected,” says Schulz. “So, a lot of interaction is now taking place between the vehicle and the operations centre where we can monitor the vehicle.”
The Quester comes standard with a fuel coaching system. “Here we are able to tell drivers whether they are driving the vehicle efficiently, enabling them to spend as much time as possible in the green band,” he adds. The in-vehicle diagnostics, including engine performance and early warning of malfunctions, through pop-up messages and warning lamps, appear on the 4,5-inch screen on the dashboard.
“Quester gives fleet owners 100 percent control of their fuel expenses while saving 30 percent on diesel costs,” says Schulz.
It is clear that UD Trucks aims to do things differently with the new Quester. “This is a new range for the group, designed for emerging markets. We are doing something that we haven’t done before,” says Christensson.
The Quester range will be manufactured in the new UD Trucks factory in Thailand and assembled at the Rosslyn plant, in Pretoria, for the local market.
“We will offer a 150 000 km/three-year basic service contract as part of the vehicle,” Schulz points out. UD Trucks still has to release the pricing information for the Quester, but says that it will be competitive with other products aimed at emerging markets.
“Ultimately, Quester addresses the top concerns of every fleet owner – namely fuel consumption, durability, productivity and maintenance – in a smart and modern fashion,” Schulz emphasises.
“It has been specifically adapted to the required transportation requirements, including a high load capacity, increased productivity, minimum downtime, low operational costs and a long service life. And all of this is supported by accredited workshops and trained experts within our regional dealer network. This is why we believe the new Quester range is certainly a game-changer.”