Brazilian market rocks!
Feeling a tad glum? Then pack your bags and head for Brazil. It’s one of the fastest growing truck and bus markets in the world and the sentiment is overwhelmingly positive, as CHARLEEN CLARKE discovers during a visit to Fenatran 2011.
Fenatran is a real eye opener, proving that bigger is not necessarily better. It comprises just one hall and the stands are modest by international standards.
I had expected exactly the opposite. We all know that Brazil is one of the BRIC markets and is expected to show massive growth in the years ahead. Scania, for example, plans to double the share of revenue it generates outside its European home market from its current level of 30% to 60% by 2020 – and much of this will be thanks to growth within the BRIC economies.
So I expected a massive exhibition with hall after all of gleaming trucks. But I was wrong and, instead, I was faced with a modest show. Sensible (but very nice) stands. And lots and lots of smiles.
The growth within the market was, of course, the reason for the smiles – although the Brazilians are, by their very nature, friendly and hospitable people. In recent years, though, they have had more to smile about than usual. According to Brazil’s National Federation of Motor Vehicle Distribution, a record 5 444 387 vehicles were sold in that country last year, easily surpassing the 2009 record of 4,8 million.
Future prospects look good too. According to José Carlos Silvano, president of the Union of Freight and Logistics Companies of Rio Grande do Sul, an estimated one million additional trucks will be put into circulation on Brazil’s roads in the next eight years.
Of course, the country is not without its challenges. One is the introduction of PROCONVE P-7 in January 2012, which requires an 80% reduction in the emissions of particulate material and a 60% reduction in the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx). In order to meet this legal requirement, the manufacturers are introducing Euro-5 engines – but there are serious question marks as to the availability of suitable fuel.
Another challenge is the sorry state of the country’s roads. Brazil has 1 580 809 km of highways, but just 212 618 km of those are paved. Like South Africa, it lacks a marvellous rail network and 60% of all goods are transported to market via the road network. In addition, more than 95% of Brazilians rely on the highways to travel throughout the country.
But, despite these challenges, it’s infinitely clear that each and every vehicle manufacturer wants to grab its share of this action. While long-time Brazilian players such as MAN, Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Iveco, Scania, Volvo and Agrale had a strong presence at the show, it also hosted a plethora of newcomers – mostly Chinese companies, but also some European companies (DAF, for instance). Here are some of the products and developments that caught my eye …
The future is “green”
The overwhelming theme of sustainability permeated the Johannesburg International Motor Show earlier this year and precisely the same could be seen at Fenatran. The emphasis was on the introduction of Euro-5 technology and a number of manufacturers displayed “green” vehicles.
For instance, in addition to its extensive range of Euro-5 trucks (which satisfy PROCONVE P-7 legislation), MAN Latin America displayed Brazil’s first hybrid truck and a TGX, the first MAN in the world to run on diesel-ethanol.
The prototype VW Constellation 17.280 6×2 Hybrid employs the concept of kinetic energy recovery (KERS) – which is also used in Formula 1 cars. The system stores the energy collected during braking in hydraulic accumulators, using it later in starting the vehicle. For this reason, it is indicated for operations in which the vehicle is submitted to a “stop and go” application, such as garbage collection or public transportation.
One of the remarkable features of this hybrid is the energy storage device; other companies have used batteries or ultra-capacitors, but MAN went with hydraulic accumulators. The main benefit lies in the simpler maintenance and operation of the system, the durability of which is greater than that of its competitor technologies. The hydraulic accumulator also has a faster response capacity (in other words, it makes all the stored energy available to start up the vehicle instantaneously).
The hybrid system with diesel/hydraulic technology was developed by MAN Latin America in partnership with Bosch Rexroth. The next stage will consist of a pilot project with a strategic fleet owner in the sector.
The MAN TGS 33.440 6×4 truck tractor, powered by a mixture of diesel and ethanol in a ratio of 55%, also garnered a considerable amount of attention. Featuring two fuel tanks, the vehicle maintains the same performance as a traditional model, while substantially reducing the emissions of CO2 and particulate material. MAN Latin America developed the vehicle in synergy with MAN Truck and Bus and Bosch Diesel Systems. The MAN D26 engine received six new injectors (one per cylinder) to inject the ethanol into the combustion chamber. The truck will now be tested during a pilot project at a Brazilian client.
A VW Constellation 17.190 beverage truck powered by Ultra Clean Diesel completed MAN’s bevy of green beauties. Ultra Clean Diesel, a new bio-fuel, was developed by the North American bio-technology company, LS9, and is said to be simpler and cheaper than other options currently available on the market. This model will be tested by fleet operators next year.
Scrambling for a share
It was interesting to see the enormous interest in the market, especially from new entrants. For instance, DAF had a sizeable stand – and the company does not even participate in the Brazilian market! Having said this, Rob Appels, director of corporate communications, explained that this was about to change. “We start construction on a 30 690 m² facility next year, which will be built by 2013,” he revealed. Parent company Paccar will invest US$200 million (around R1,6 billion) in the project, which will be located in Ponta Grossa, a city in the Brazilian state of Paraná. The company will produce the LF, CF and XF trucks.
According to Appels, the company has high aspirations for the market. “This is one of the fastest growing truck markets in the world. We believe that, with our cab-over trucks and Euro-5 engines, we have the right products for this market. We have already been selling our trucks in other South American markets – Chile and Peru, for instance – and we have met with considerable success,” he noted.
The whole trend towards globalisation was very much in evidence at Fenatran. For instance, MAN announced that Volkswagen trucks would receive a MAN powertrain for the first time in South America. The engine in question is the four and six cylinder MAN D08 range, of which over two million units have already been produced in Europe.
The company also announced that MAN Latin America would begin marketing MAN extra-heavy trucks as of next year. In order to produce these vehicles, a second assembly line has been developed in the Resende plant (located in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro). An additional 100 staff members have also been employed. The TGX 29.440 and 33.440 will be the first MAN trucks to be produced in Brazil.
Feast of new product
Of course, DAF wasn’t the only company to introduce new products at the show. Brazil is Volvo’s largest truck market and it had a raft of new models on display at Fenatran 2011.
The brand’s new F line heavy truck range, with Euro-5 technology, stole centre stage, with the piece de resistance being the powerful FH. The new truck will be released to the Brazilian market during 2012, with new drivelines equipped with the SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology.
The new FH is equipped with engines delivering anything from 313 kW (420 hp) to 402 kW (540 hp). The FMX, on the other hand, ranges from 313 kW (420 hp) to 372 kW (500 hp) derivatives. Other exciting news for this model is the fitment of Volvo’s I-Shift electronic transmission. These gearboxes are fitted to almost 70% of the F line trucks manufactured, and can handle up to 200-tonnes in full-load freight applications.
The 11,0-litre Volvo FMX and FM will also receive the new generation driveline with the SCR technology, in order to comply with PROCONVE P7/Euro-5 emission legislation, but the power outputs will remain unchanged.
The third-generation heavy and semi-heavy VM line of trucks was also launched at Fenatran. The new range, also equipped with the SCR technology, features 164 kW (220 hp), 201 kW (270 hp) and 246 kW (330 hp) six-cylinder engines. The increased power brings with it other benefits, such as increased injection pressure which goes from 1 400 to 1 800 bar. This results in higher fuel savings.
The new VM’s cab features a new and modern ergonomic dashboard, with onboard computer (the radio has been relocated to the dash too); a new pneumatically-adjusted steering wheel with built-in controls for various functions; and a new digital tachograph has been repositioned on the upper side of the cab.
Complete new Merc range
Mercedes-Benz has been active in Brazil for 55 years and, for the first time, it launched a completely new truck and bus range. Incidentally, the Brazilian market is very important to Daimler, as indicated by the size of its São Bernardo do Campo plant (it is Daimler’s biggest outside Germany). “We are not only modernising, updating and improving our products. Way beyond this, a brand new Mercedes-Benz is emerging, even stronger and more competitive. We inaugurate a new era for our company in this outstanding manner,” stated Jürgen Ziegler, Mercedes-Benz do Brasil’s CEO for Latin America.
According to the executive, the simultaneous renewal of the whole commercial vehicle line represented an “unheralded action”, not only for the company, but also for the entire national automotive industry.
“We are introducing advanced technologies, such as BlueTec 5, new engines which meet the requirements of PROCONVE P-7, and an unparalleled visual identity for the vehicles,” explained Ziegler.
In order to reduce the volume of NOx emissions and obtain lower fuel
consumption, the BlueTec 5 technology includes the adoption of ARLA 32 (Automotive NOx Reducing Liquid Agent) in the exhaust system of the vehicle for the after-treatment of the exhaust gases by selective catalyst converter reduction (SCR).
The ARLA 32, stored in a specific reservoir inside the vehicle, converts the NOx into pure nitrogen and water steam, which are harmless to nature, thereby improving the air quality.
The new Mercedes-Benz engines, compliant to the PROCONVE P-7, not only reduce the pollutant emissions, but also offer better fuel consumption and improved power and torque, which means better performance and lower operational cost.
“F” is for fun
“F” doesn’t just stand for Fenatran or Ford; it also stands for “fun”. That much was confirmed by the presence of the funkiest truck at the show – Ford DF Motorsport’s race truck. Based on the Ford Cargo 9332, it is all set to tackle the Formula Truck 2012 season.
It is obviously highly modified. Thus, the power of the six-cylinder Cummins 9,3-litre engine goes from 228 to 861 kW (310 to
1 170 hp), ground clearance is slashed to 5 cm, and a roll cage and racing seats have been added to the cockpit. It scoots from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6 seconds. Unlike the European Truck Racing Championship, the Brazilian series has no speed limit – and the top speed of this Ford is a whopping 235 km/h.