Russia forges on
Comtrans 2015 – the 13th international exhibition for commercial vehicles, held in Moscow, Russia – is claimed to be the largest exhibition in that country. Here are some highlights.
Following the economic crisis of 2008/9, the Russian heavy commercial vehicle market (six tonnes and over) grew rapidly – reaching its highest volume ever, of 134 000 units, in 2012.
However, since that time, the market has contracted markedly. In 2013, new registrations fell by 22 percent to 105 000, and, in 2014, sales lost another 23 percent, falling to 81 000. Demand this year is expected to further decrease by roughly one quarter, to around 61 000 new vehicles.
While a turnaround is not expected to happen soon, there was still much to get excited about at Comtrans 2015.
The “cab of tomorrow” was the centrepiece on the Kamaz stand. Italian design house Torino Design was commissioned to conceive a truck interior that functions as a means of transport, office and home. Kamaz 2020 is the result. It has the same dimensions as a conventional cab, but with flexibility and space management never seen before.
The cab is divided into “driver” and “day” zones: drivers can take a jog on the built-in treadmill, have a shower, cook like a chef on the fold-away induction plate stove, make an espresso, and watch their home cinema before going to bed in total comfort.
There’s lots of tech, too. Four cameras are connected to four displays positioned inside the A pillars, substituting the wing mirrors. The dashboard is driver oriented and features hi-tech digital instrument panels, a 13-inch tablet, a navigation system, head-up display and weather station. The steering-wheel centre contains a cradle for your smart phone.
Fitted with electromagnetic suspension, the driver’s seat detects road bumps and reacts in real time, reducing vibration by more than 90 percent, and so decreasing fatigue.
The GAZ Group is the largest producer of commercial vehicles in Russia. The company presented seven new Generation NEXT vehicles; including van, truck and bus models.
“For the first time, the GAZ Group presents entirely new models in all the segments in which we participate – the result of dramatic improvements in manufacturing technologies and the highest level of development in our design school,” says Vadim Sorokin, president of the GAZ Group.
The new debutants kick-off with the GAZelle NEXT range of vans and people movers. With the release of the van version, the company now enters a new segment of commercial vehicles, previously represented by foreign manufacturers.
New specialty versions of the Ural NEXT double cab, with space for seven passengers, débuted at the exhibition. This vehicle provides off-road capability with modern standards of comfort and reliability.
The new GAZon NEXT truck tractor was designed for minimum cost per kilogram of cargo, and can carry double the load of the GAZon NEXT rigid truck.
Two buses also premiered. The small-class Vector NEXT is based on a modular design to easily create coaches of differing dimensions. High levels of driver and passenger comfort were a key design consideration.
Finally, a new GAZ low-floor bus for urban transport was displayed. With capacity for 75 passengers, it is equipped with a new Euro-5 YaMS-530 engine and ZF running gear. The new bus features some high-tech safety and convenience features, such as video surveillance and on-board navigation.
The Comtrans exhibition comes just after Fuso had been integrated into the business scope of Mercedes-Benz Trucks Vostok (MBTV); a 50:50 joint venture between Daimler AG and KAMAZ, during June. The company is now in charge of production, sales and service of Mercedes-Benz and Fuso trucks, as well as sales and service for Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses in Russia.
Among the highlights of the MBTV exhibition was the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, which will be introduced to the Russian market in 2016. The Actros 1848 LS truck tractor took pride of place.
Designed for international transportation, the new vehicle features Euro-6 technology and is configurable with the GigaSpace cab, Mercedes PowerShift 3 automatic transmission, a full set of aerodynamic spoilers, stabilisation system, FleetBoard, bi-xenon headlamps and massage function for the driver’s seat.
The bus subdivision of MBTV introduced the Setra S415 UL Business Euro 5. The bus is designed to transport 51 passengers and 5,2 m3 of luggage on suburban and inter-city routes. During 2015, this division took leadership of the Russian market among foreign bus manufacturers.
One of the main highlights from Mercedes-Benz Vans was the premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Classic Edition SuperBike. This unique van is designed exclusively for the Russian market. It pays tribute to the ever-growing popularity of biking in Russia by providing bikers with a secure, weather-proof means of transport for their motorcycles, gear and other essentials.
It was a centenary celebration at the MAN Truck & Bus stand. The company unveiled to the Russian market its TGX D38 “100 Years Edition” – the flagship in the range designed to “appeal to those customers with a genuine passion for the product”.
“The ‘100 Years Edition’ offers the unique performance and efficiency of the TGX D38 with the added features of a real eye-catcher – and all ex works,” says Heinz-Jürgen Löw, director of sales and marketing.
The colours: MAN stone grey metallic, MAN D38 red, MAN steel blue metallic and MAN crystal white metallic, were specially developed for this vehicle. Two large flaming lions on both sides dominate the exterior.
Alcoa Dura Bright EVO aluminium wheels add further eye-catching detail and complement the highly-polished stainless-steel front and side bars with integrated LED accent lighting.
Enhanced driver comfort is at the heart of the interior of the “100 Years Edition”, including the Plus infotainment package and optimised seating.
Also making its premiere was the MAN Lion’s Intercity bus. Designed to reduce overall operating costs, it can be used as a well-appointed intercity vehicle, shuttle transport and as a robust school bus. It features the 216 kW (290 hp) D08 engine, has 55 seats, two wheelchair spaces and one wheelchair lift.
Renault’s new range made an appearance at its stand, including the Renault Trucks T High 480 and the Renault Trucks T Optifuel 460 for long haulage; Renault Trucks K 430 and the Renault Trucks C 430 Air for heavy construction and transport construction operations respectively.
Of particular interest is the flagship of the new range, the Renault Trucks T High. It is equipped with a Euro-5 DXi 13, 358 kW (480 hp) engine and Optidriver gearbox; high sleeper cab; two aluminium fuel tanks plus a rear-axle stabiliser.
The T-Optifuel version features the DTi 11 Euro-5 engine of 343 kW (460 hp). The T-Optifuel offers an aerodynamic package and intelligent technologies, such as the fuel eco-pack, inhibited power mode, Eco Cruise control with the Optiroll controlled freewheeling mode and a disengageable air compressor for improved fuel efficiency.
Independent certification body, TÜV Rheinland, certified a 10,9 percent reduction of fuel consumption for a Renault Trucks T Optifuel, compared with a standard model.
While 12 Volvo vehicles caught the attention of visitors, it was the FH16 6×4 truck tractor, with new heavy-duty bumper, that was the focus of visitors’ attention. Also in the spotlight was the Volvo FH 4×2 Methane-diesel truck tractor – illustrating a breakthrough technology based on the contemporary demand of the Russian market.
Two interactive three-screen truck simulators of the Volvo FH and Volvo FMX were available for visitors to test the benefits of utilising Volvo trucks on long-haul routes, or in heavy construction.
As regular readers of FOCUS know, this magazine has been appointed an associate member of the International Truck of the Year (IToY)! FOCUS is the sole South African magazine to have joined this prestigious body. One of the advantages of this association is access to exclusive articles, specially written for FOCUS by ITOY jury members. This is one such article.