I can transform ya’
FAW has made a name for itself in the local construction industry, even playing a big part in transforming Joburg’s FNB Stadium (Soccer City) for the 2010 World Cup. Now the company plans to enter the extra-heavy segment of that market with a transformer lookalike, reports GAVIN MYERS.
A Fortune 500 company, China First Automotive Works Group Corporation (FAW) is China’s oldest and largest vehicle manufacturer. It was founded in 1953 and today has 28 wholly-owned subsidiaries and 17 equity participation companies employing 130 000 people.
Now, after nearly 20 years in South Africa, the company has invested around R700 million in Port Elizabeth’s Coega Industrial Development Zone to build a production facility (the official soil-turning took place in February) to meet the market demand in South Africa and the company’s African exporting requirements. With a plan to build 5 000 trucks per annum, the new J6 extra-heavy truck-tractor will be the plant’s main priority.
Launched to the press, customers, suppliers and staff at the FNB Stadium in September, the J6 is one of FAW’s most successful models worldwide, and will spearhead the company’s foray into the local long-haul segment.
“The J6 truck-tractor, with reliable, economical, powerful and safety prioritisation features, is already firmly established in the truck-tractor market in China and is currently exported to many countries and regions in Asia, the Americas and others,” says Dong Chunbo, vice-president of FAW. “The models running in South Africa will provide customers with an economical, efficient and reliable means of transportation in the heavy-duty commercial vehicle category.”
Designed and manufactured in-house from the ground up, the US$1,6 billion programme behind the J6 presents a coming together of some of the biggest component supplier names in the industry, such as Bosch, ContiTech, Eaton, Hankook, Jost, Mann Hummel, Sachs, Spiralock, TRW, Wabco and ZF.
“This cutting-edge series represents the company’s long line of commercial vehicle expertise and incorporates high levels of innovation, reliability, comfort and driveability that have made FAW a brand leader around the world,” says Richard Leiter, director, FAW Vehicle Manufacturers South Africa.
With the J6, FAW is taking on the market with a seemingly well balanced package. The vehicle is available with either low- or high-roof, and forward electrical tilt cabs providing single bunk semi-sleeper or double bunk full-sleeper options. The manufacturer claims a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 33 700 kg and a gross combination mass (GCM) of 75 000 kg. Permissible GCM (DT) is 56 000 kg.
Power comes from FAW’s own CA6DN1-46 E3 turbo-diesel engine. The Euro 3-compliant, 12,5-litre six-cylinder engine produces 338 kW (453 hp) at 1 900 r/min and 2 100 Nm torque at 1 400 r/min. Drive is through one of two 16-speed ZF Ecosplit manual transmissions – one with intarder and one without.
In terms of braking, the J6 offers all-round drum brakes with ABS and there is a 260 kW Jacobs brake. Should the relevant gearbox be chosen, the ZF intarder provides 420 kW of braking. A 600-litre tank is fitted.
The J6 is offered with a three-year/unlimited kilometre factory warranty – covering the entire vehicle for the first year and all drivetrain components for the second and third years. As added peace of mind, FAW South Africa has partnered with the AA to supply all necessary services related to roadside assistance, recovery and delivery of vehicles throughout South Africa and certain neighbouring countries.
FAW has established itself well in the local truck market over the years. Along with its new investment and, of course, the J6, the company looks set to transform the extra-heavy commercial vehicle sector too.