The Queensland Government’s Driver Training Centre at Mt Cotton was the venue for UD’s product showcase as part of their birthday celebrations (75 years for UD Australia), and although there was a plethora of equipment to play with, the only real question on everyone’s mind as the media gathered around John McLean, Vice President, UD Trucks Australia was ‘Why has the 470hp 13-litre Quon with the 18-speed Roadranger been dropped from the Australasian offering. What made the question even more pertinent was that at the time it was still listed on both New Zealand and Australian web pages as a current model, and in fact still is on the New Zealand site. It’s a question well worth asking, as without that truck UD no longer has a 10hp to the tonne offering in the 44 tonne and above GCM market. Surely this fact will drive away all but the light commodity customers in their linehaul market segment.
Peter Voorhoeve, Volvo Group Australia President addressed the question and said that they were not about pitting group brands against each other and were aligning the different makes so that customers were catered for at all levels. This left another question – would a UD Quon GW26470 or CG31470 customer become an FM12 Volvo customer? We’re sure at the right price they’d love to, but the chances are they’ll seek other offerings from the land where the sun’s always rising, as it sets on big UDs.
When pressed Voorhoeve would neither commit nor rule out whether the hiatus would be partly filled under Euro 6 by extracting 460hp from the 11-litre motor, as Renault have done. However when you implicate this possibility with life beyond Euro 6 (ref International Truckstop; p58) maybe the thread of the UD story becomes less ‘dangly.’
Time will tell how this strategy plays out but at least the Australian customers have the option of UD heritage parts for their 470’s while those at the big table figure things out. There was lots of UD iron to sample at Mt Cotton, from the 250hp MK11 model to the now range topping variants sporting the 420hp GH11 motor, all loaded to 75% GVM or GCM, depending on configuration. John Mclean said that UD competes in 65% of the potential market and that it’s strategy is to be the market leader in those areas, playing their part in the Volvo Group’s broader goals of being the leading transport solutions provider in Australasia, and the world.
UD are undergoing a continued process of finding their happy place in the Volvo Group family. What that looks like today is different
to what it looked like yesterday and under Euro 6 things may well change again. Is the development of the CD 24 380 6x2 going to
bring it too close to the Volvo product line, and will it see the same fate as the 13-litre offering before passing ‘Go” as a result? according to product manager Ben Chamberlan they’re pitched at a different price break and economic model – but that’s what we all thought about the bigger truck. Anyway all that aside what did stand out to us is the refinement of the products they do have. The UD’s all drove and felt far more European than ever before and build quality was reflected in the in-cab environment. In that regard the Volvo influence can only be great news.