Global leader charms local users
This month VIC OLIVER road tests the FAW 16.240 FL freight carrier 8 ton 4×2 model.
The FAW group is a global leader in the vehicle manufacturing industry with a 50-year history of building quality light, medium and heavy commercial vehicles.
FAW entered the South African vehicle market in 1993 when Richard Leiter started importing Chinese trucks. Since then FAW Trucks has become a recognised player in the local market with a continually growing share.
The FAW 16.240 FL test vehicle was loaded with a 7 200 kg payload. The front axle was loaded to its full permissible capacity of 7 000 kg and the rear axle recorded a mass of 9 160 kg, which was slightly over the permissible allowance of 9 000 kg.
The test run was from Isando to Witbank and return, covering a distance of 271,3 km. The fuel used was 55,95 litres, which resulted in a good consumption return of 20,6 l/100 km or 4,85 km/l.
Fitted with a FAW 7-litre straight-six, turbocharged inter-cooled engine coupled to a FAW eight-speed synchromesh transmission, the vehicle performed exceptionally well on the road.
The full engine torque of 890 Nm is developed at 1 400 r/min and is held reasonably steady until 1 800 r/min. This good torque characteristic enables the 16.240 FL to hold its speed on uphill gradients without having to continually down gear, resulting in good trip times and high vehicle productivity.
At 80 km/h the engine is revving at 1 400 r/min exactly where maximum torque develops and at the speed where the engine is most fuel efficient, proving the gearing has been correctly calculated.
Once on the N12 Highway and past all the road construction between the Gillooly’s Interchange and Benoni, and travelling at a steady 80 km/h, it was only necessary to change down to seventh gear on the steeper gradients. The FAW eight-forward speed synchromesh gearbox is easy to operate and driver friendly.
The manual clutch is air assisted and easy to operate. The vehicle is fitted with a 430 mm diameter clutch that is bigger than most of the competitive models in this class.
The steering free-play on the test vehicle was excessive and I found that I had to continually correct direction to keep the vehicle accurately on the road. However, the FAW representative who accompanied me on the trip gave the assurance that the vehicle had not yet had its pre-delivery inspection (PDI) and that the excessive play would be corrected before delivery to a customer.
The full air-braking system is fitted with spring brake boosters on the rear wheels. An air dryer is standard equipment, keeping the brake system clean and free from moisture. The exhaust brake is operated by a toggle switch mounted on the steering column.
The cab is easily tilted by manually pumping the small hydraulic pump situated on the right-hand side of the vehicle. Often at a roadside breakdown the driver cannot pull the vehicle completely off the road and therefore, as a safety measure, I would have liked to have seen the cab tilt pump fitted rather on the left-hand side of the vehicle.
The cab is of modern design, well-constructed and spacious. To add to the driver’s comfort and safety an air-conditioner, radio with USB port, and safety belts are fitted as standard equipment.
FAW South Africa is aware of the importance of after-sales service and therefore holds a minimum parts stockholding of R30 million in the country. The company is also continually upgrading and expanding its countrywide dealer network.
During the test run it was easy to see why this FAW model is becoming increasingly popular with operators in South Africa.