UD'S GOLDEN CHILD

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Local operators of medium-duty Japanese trucks have a new vehicle vying for their attention, as UD Trucks Australia has launched the Croner to us Down Under. Already available in both markets, the vehicles arrived in New Zealand and Australia at the same time, right in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown.

UD loyalists would have lamented the fact that the Condor was discontinued in 2017, and those with a keen eye on the global truck market would probably be aware that the Croner did in fact have its global launch that same year – before making its way into selected markets within Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America over the ensuing months. Why then did it take so long for Croner to roll into dealerships Down Under? According to UD Trucks product manager David Roset, the Croner released onto the Australasian market has been fully engineered to suit local market needs, boasting numerous revisions. “The truck you see here was the result of a major engineering project that tailored the Croner for local conditions and emissions regulations. It is actually the most advanced Croner version of all UD markets,” he says. What’s what, then? Instantly recognisable as a UD, the Croner is available at launch in two basic variants, the 4x2 PK or 6x2 PD. Each model offers a variety of suspension and wheelbase options to meet the needs of most sector applications. In total, 18 different wheelbase options are offered, and both the PK and PD can be had with multileaf- spring rear suspension or air – four-bag on the PD and two on the PK. The air suspension system features ride control, including an in-cab controller; a system not often seen on Japanese trucks in this segment and one that will surely be appreciated by operators.


Photo: Calm White is the standard hue, but Honey Yellow brings out the Croner’s golden glow.

GVM and GCM are both improved over the Condor. The Croner PK weighs in at 17.5 and 32 tonnes respectively (front axle capacity of 6.5 tonnes, rear 11 tonnes), with the PD at 24.5 and 32 tonnes (respective axle weights of 6.5 and 18 tonnes). In either case, the driver will not want for grunt. Both trucks are powered by the GH8E 8-litre, 6-cylinder unit that offers up 206kW (280ps) of power and 1050Nm (774lb/ft) torque. The torque plateau is reached at just 1100rpm, and with the engine’s green band covering the 900 to 1700rpm spectrum, momentum can be kept up easily with little impact on economy. Both models are available with the Allison 3000 Series 6-speed gearbox with Allison torque converter, Gen 5 adaptive shift, and pushbutton shift selector. No manual option? Nope… “Increasingly we see very little demand for a manual transmission in our markets. The torque multiplication of the Allison transmission provides excellent performance in urban roles and makes the Croner extremely versatile in terms of application,” Roset says.


Photo: ‘Lighter’ 4x2 PK maintains 32-tonne GCM.


Photo: Smart office – multifunction 6” touchscreen system and Allison push-button shift selector are some of the local developments.

The 3000 Series is PTO capable, with 660 or 930Nm (total) capability. The emissions system is Euro 5 SCR. From going to slowing, and the Croner combines an exhaust brake with selfadjusting S-cam air brakes. ABS and EBD are standard. Occupant safety is further enhanced by a driver’s airbag, seatbelt pre-tensioners, and impact-absorbing cladding on the lower dash to protect the driver’s knees. The cab meets current ECE cab strength requirements. The cab environment has been designed for comfort and functionality. The driver’s seat is air suspended, and there’s a rest area with mattress. To ease the task, the Croner comes equipped with a Wi-Fi enabled 6” touchscreen infotainment system that incorporates truck-specific satellite navigation, a PDF reader, and a whole range of connectivity options. Up to five cameras can be connected to the system, the Croner coming standard with an infrared reversing camera with microphone. To keep the driver continually connected, a wireless mobile phone charging pocket can be optioned. Other options include reversing sensors (high or low fitment), a tyre pressure monitoring system, and the UD Telematics Positioning+ package.


Photo: Unique Driver ID means driver behaviour can be logged from truck to truck.


Photo: Cab environment designed for productivity and comfort.

Talking telematics, this is in addition to the standard fit (12-month subscription) Fuel and Environmental Positioning fleet management packages. This gives the operator all manner of information, from vehicle utilisation to driver behaviour, across 10 metrics. The digital deluge doesn’t end there, though. UD Trucks Australia is particularly proud of the Driver ID feature. A first for the stable, it allows the UD to talk to the rest of the Volvo Group family suite of products and services. A driver’s individual profile can be loaded to a USB, which, when inserted into a slot in the dash, allows them to log into the telematics system when moving from truck to truck. The benefit for the operator is having all his trucks in one telematics model. “The multimedia unit and many other components are specific to the Australia and New Zealand Croner. This is a unique combination offering versatility and performance,” says Roset.


Photo: Easy cab access, with top step covered by the door.

OEM backup is by way of a 36-month/300,000km warranty, 36-month/unlimited kilometre corrosion warranty, and an optional extended warranty of 60 months/350,000km. So, was the Croner worth the wait? On paper it’s an impressive product, and our international experience of the product would certainly indicate it will be warmly accepted by operators Down Under. After all, UD Trucks Australia has done its due diligence, biding its time to develop the product to meet local needs and ‘exhaustively testing prototype vehicles with varying payloads and in varying conditions’. Sure, the launch timing was a little unfortunate, but we look forward to finally getting behind the wheel on local soil once Covid’s faded from memory.