Build and design quality shines through
This month Vic Oliver tests the Foton model BJ1051, a 6 920 kg GVM freight carrier fitted with a factory manufactured dropside body.
Foton was founded in Beijing China in 1996 and since then has become a major commercial vehicle production company achieving sales of well over 800 000 vehicles per year, 20% of which are sold to overseas markets.
Foton has wisely aligned itself with major players in the global commercial vehicle market like Cummins and Daimler and now wishes to gain a fair share of the South African commercial vehicle market.
The vehicle that was presented to FOCUS to road test was the model BJ1051, a 6 920 kg GVM freight carrier fitted with a factory manufactured dropside body. During the pre-trip inspection, I was impressed with the build and design quality of the vehicle. The influence and experience of Daimler and Cummins in building quality vehicles and engines could be clearly seen.
To obtain a true test of the vehicle’s performance and fuel consumption, we selected a route with 40% highway driving and 60% town driving. The BJ1051 was loaded with 60 bags of cement each weighing 50 kg, giving us a nominal payload of 3 000 kg, which presented a nominal loaded vehicle mass of 5 960 kg.
With a Gross Vehicle Mass rating of 6 920 kg the vehicle was capable of being loaded with another 20 bags of cement, illustrating that when fitted with a lightweight factory-fitted body the vehicle is capable of carrying a payload of close to 4 ton.
The fuel consumption achieved during the test of 13,81 l/100 km was amazing and proves the Cummins statement of claiming to build modern truck engines with exceptional performance and low operating costs.
On the road the BJ1051 performed exceptionally well. The 3,8 litre Cummins ISF turbocharged intercooled common-rail engine produces its maximum torque of 450 Nm just above idle speed at 1 200 r/min and holds this torque until 2 200 r/min. This flat torque curve engine coupled to a synchromesh six-speed transmission makes the vehicle a pleasure to drive and ensures high vehicle productivity.
The Foton’s performance was well tested on the route when we climbed the famous Krugersdorp hill that is often used by truck manufacturers to test their vehicles due to the steep gradient. Most loaded commercial vehicles have to crawl up this hill. The BJ1051 sailed up in fourth gear maintaining a speed of 80 km/h.
At 80 km/h the engine revs at 1 800 r/min, which is in the middle of the torque band and illustrates that the gearing on the vehicle is correct.
The engine complies with the Euro 3 exhaust emission standard making it an environmentally friendly vehicle.
The full air braking system, which is normally only fitted to bigger trucks, ensures excellent braking. Drum brakes are fitted all round. The BJ1051 is fitted with an engine exhaust brake that was found not to be very effective.
Good cab suspension and noise and heat insulation ensures the noise level inside the cab is good and all controls are easy to use and prove to be driver friendly.
To add to driver comfort an air-conditioner and radio are fitted as standard equipment. The cab is mounted high on the chassis, and with reasonably large rear mirrors the driver has a good panoramic vision without blind spots.
Foton Trucks SA is fully aware that vehicle operators in South Africa demand a good countrywide network of dealers who can provide the backup service that is required to ensure high vehicle utilisation. The company is therefore in the process of appointing dealers around the country.
At Foton’s Isando offices, a R2 million parts stock and a workshop with trained technicians brings owners peace of mind.
Overall I was highly impressed with the performance of the BJ1051 and the excellent fuel consumption. l am sure that it will not be long before we see many more new Foton trucks on our roads.