Up to the challenge
The new UD 80C freight carrier is an impressive vehicle in many respects, as VIC OLIVER discovers.
Want to succeed within your industry sector? One of the most vital business imperatives is that of listening to your customers.
Some businesses get this right; others fail dismally. The former statement almost certainly applies to the company that used to be called Nissan Diesel, and – come 1 September – will be known as UD Trucks Southern Africa. Its customers have been asking for a vehicle in the 8 to 9-t segment of the market that would reduce lifetime running costs by being extremely fuel efficient and highly productive. These operators also wanted an environmentally friendly vehicle that was easy to maintain without the need for expensive diagnostic equipment.
The answer? The new UD 80C, introduced as a direct result of Nissan Diesel, or UD Trucks Southern Africa, listening to its customers’ needs.
The truck features the well-proven Nissan Diesel FE6TA turbocharged engine, which delivers 157 kW (211 hp) of power. This is married to a six-speed synchromesh transmission and high-speed rear differential ratio of 6.166:1. Surprisingly with a rear differential ratio of 6.166:1, the vehicle is still able to achieve an expectable gradeability of 30.58% at full Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), when operated as a solo unit.
The Nissan Diesel FE6TA engine is easy to maintain, as it is equipped with a mechanical engine governor while the only electronic equipment on the vehicle is the ignition timer. Therefore no expensive diagnostic equipment is needed to maintain the vehicle. The engine also meets the Euro 2 emission standards.
But what’s it like to drive? In order to answer this question, I took the UD 80C freight carrier on a 226 km test route from Rosslyn to the Kendal-Ogies-Balmoral turn-off on the Witbank highway and then back again. This proved beyond any doubt that the UD 80C is a very fuel-efficient vehicle, which offers high vehicle productivity.
The vehicle was loaded to its full permissible Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 14 000 kg. Being a factory test vehicle, it was not fitted with a body. To carry the load the vehicle was fitted with steel weights secured to the chassis frame. This meant there was no air resistance from a truck body, which would have marginally affected the fuel consumption of the test vehicle. The fuel consumption achieved on the FOCUS test run was 4.71 km/l and the round trip was completed in three hours and 15 minutes, resulting in an average speed of 69.6 km/h.
On the road the vehicle handled well. It was driver-friendly and easy to drive. The gearing is good. At 80 km/h, the engine revved at 1 700 r/min, which is very close to the middle of the engine maximum torque and one of the reasons why the fuel consumption is so good. Good engine torque is available between 1 400 and 2 200 r/min, which reduces the number of gear changes. This, in turn, minimizes maintenance costs.
The vehicle performed well on the test route and negotiated the uphill climbs easily.
However in my opinion this vehicle does not have sufficient power to comfortably pull a trailer on routes with steep gradients, even though it has a Gross Combination Mass (GCM) rating of 18 000 kg, which legally allows that vehicle to draw a trailer.
The interior noise level is at an acceptable level and communication in the cab between the driver and passenger is possible at normal voice levels.
The driver’s seat is comfortable as it is a mechanical suspension seat, but the passenger seat is fixed and is not very comfortable for the passenger on a long trip.
But this is a minor niggle; in virtually all other areas, this is an outstanding truck. In conclusion, I believe that the new UD 80C freight carrier is ideal for distribution type applications. It will offer operators the opportunity to minimise lifetime operating costs, which means it will almost certainly find favour with most fleets.