Iveco South Africa has been a speck on the commercial vehicle horizon, but with the addition of the new Daily 4×4 – and an impressive line-up of things to come – JACO DE KLERK discovers that the company will deliver a breathtaking sunrise over the South African skies.
Iveco South Africa’s managing director, Bob Lowden, points out that Iveco – if you include its joint ventures in China – is the number three truck manufacturer globally. “In South Africa, however, we are a spec on the horizon,” he says. “But globally it is a different picture. We are market leaders through our joint ventures in both China and Brazil, which are massive emerging markets.”
However, Iveco SA has already made a lot of headway in the market – improving its sales by 40 percent in 2012 against the 780 units sold in 2011. “We are continuing that trend this year,” says Lowden. “In 2013 we aim to get as close to doubling the 2012 number as we can, which is an ambitious task, as there are several things that need to happen for us to do that.”
The newly-launched Daily 4×4 is one of these things, as members of the media discovered on April 25, during the press launch (which preceded the official launch on May 10). All were left in awe after driving the vehicle, which thankfully we could do as the event was held at Leeubank in Broederstroom, about 60 km north-west of Johannesburg.
I say thankfully as one needs a C1 driver’s licence (the old Code 10) to drive the Daily 4×4. But, because the off-road track was beautifully nestled in private property in the veld, we could all enjoy this 4×4 wonder.
The vehicle made easy work of the scenic route, lolling through the bush as if it was its playground. It scaled all the hills and laughed at the rocks as it went over everything it encountered. This was made possible by the Daily 4×4’s permanent all-wheel drive, its astounding ground clearance of 300 mm and its 51 degree approach angle.
It can also scale a 45 degree ascent (which equates to a 100 percent gradient), has a ramp angle of up to 35 degrees and a maximum departure angle of 42 degrees. I personally wouldn’t test its maximum side slope angle of 40 degrees, as the high ride made it feel as if the vehicle was going to topple over on the track’s “baby” slope (admittedly I had to force myself not to lean to the opposite side as my nerves were reminding me that they were there).
However, the Daily 4×4 didn’t complain one bit, only uttering conquering grunts here and there as it danced and skipped over the axle twisters … But it can be forgiven for the slight noise as the vehicle had its central differential lock on. The Daily also has front and rear diff-locks on the front and rear axles, with the clinchers easily armed and disconnected via dedicated buttons on the control unit, that are within easy reach on the dash.
The vehicle also doesn’t mind getting wet as it has a wading depth of 620 mm, which can be boosted to 700 mm with the addition of vertical exhausts.
It’s no wonder, taking all the benefits into account, that 80 percent of the original 150 models that Iveco SA ordered were sold at the 2013 Beeld Holiday Show (which ran from February 15 to 17) even before the price was made public. The single cab is retailing for R556 450, with the double cab (which can seat up to seven people) leaving a R577 450 hole in your pocket (both prices exclude VAT).
However, ground clearance, diff-locks and the slopes a vehicle can scale aren’t the only things that count when you’re going off the beaten track … Power is also a key factor. Iveco’s new Daily 4×4 is equipped with a three-litre, 16-valve, 150 hp (111,9 kW) common rail Euro-3 diesel engine, which delivers 350 Nm of torque between 1 400 and 2 600 r/min.
The power is transferred to the 255/100 R 16 off-road tyres – which come standard on both derivatives – via 24 forward- and four reverse-gear ratios. These include a six-speed “carlike” transmission, mounted on the dash for easy access and normal driving, with two leavers sprouting from the ground – offering another six each. The last six ratios are obtained by using the sprouts in conjunction with each other.
For the technically minded the six-speed transmission is coupled to the central transfer box, with two reduction gears, in order to obtain the 24 gear ratios in four transfer settings for the forward gears and four ratios for the reverse gear.
Iveco’s Daily 4×4 falls in the 5,5 tonne category and has a 3 400 mm long wheelbase. Both the double- and single-cab derivatives have a gross vehicle mass of 1 000 kg and a gross combination mass of 5 500 kg. However, it isn’t only suited to carrying and towing things around, as its human cargo will be transported in style with the vehicle’s good quality, sturdy and comfortable interior.
As Lowden points out, the 4×4 derivative of the Daily lives up to the model’s reputation. “The Daily is fairly well established in South Africa, as it is almost everywhere in the world. We have many loyal customers for this unit,” he stresses. “We have several haulage companies that regularly do over a million kilometres in their day-to-day operations, so it has a really good reputation for being strong and tough.”
The Daily 4×4 isn’t the only vehicle launch Iveco SA has in store for 2013. The company is planning to launch a Euro-3 flagship version of the Stralis 480 and a new EuroCargo. “In the heavy range, EuroCargo is dominating Europe, but it hasn’t really had the recognition it deserves in South Africa,” says Lowden. “So we’re really working hard on a new 2013 EuroCargo product, which we’ll present at the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) before the launch next year.”
He adds that the new flagship Stralis Hi-Way is coming in either July or August. “We’ll also launch the new off-road Trakker Hi-Land – with the Hi-Way being the on-road version – and hope to have it at JIMS later this year.”
So the future is looking bright for Iveco SA, with the Daily 4×4 stealing hearts and a line-up of new workhorses that will take the South African commercial vehicle industry by storm … It will be very interesting to see just how wide the company will broaden its horizon this year and beyond.