Driving the New UD Quon

Driving the New UD Quon

It is a new and interesting encounter, driving the new UD Quon. Climbing up into the cabin is a familiar experience. The original GW470, when it came out, was a sound prime mover design, and UD has retained the essential elements that made it work. Inside the whole look has been freshened up but the overall geography of the interior remains the same.


Driving the New UD Quon


The wraparound dash has a sharper look and the feel of the dials and switches has had some Volvofication (is that a word?). Underlying these changes is the sophisticated multiplexed wiring system. The switches can connect into the CAN bus at any position, so operators can customise, and later change, the layout of the switches. It’s a simple plug-and-play operation.


The now-familiar set of buttons on the steering wheel control both the cruise and automatic braking, plus act as controls for the new, larger LED screen right in the middle of the driver’s eye-line. It is possible to scroll through information and set a preferred default screen to be displayed when driving.


There seems to be a common theme in all Japanese truck information screens – the wording and fonts used seem clunky when compared to the look we are used to from our phones, computers and other truck systems. This is most likely due to the system being designed to use the Japanese characters and then adapted to the roman type used across the world.


The lap sash seat belt is still attached to the B pillar and not integrated into the driver’s seat. We have to assume this is a safety consideration, with the – always-safety-conscious – UD engineers in Japan yet to come up with a cabin floor adaptation to hold onto a driver’s seat with a integrated seat belt to their satisfaction.


Driving the New UD Quon


The overall performance of the driveline is more than satisfactory. The engine feels comfortable at its task and well within its comfort zone when asked to work hard. Taking a B-double set loaded to just under 60 tonnes out on the road with the 460hp prime mover demonstrated the abilities of the new Quon in being able to handle this job. It is not up to long-distance line-haul at top weights, but can handle B-double work over the shorter haul.


We are dealing with a well-proven combination of engine and gearbox, even with the tweaks to suit Japanese sensibilities. Changes are smooth and effective, shorter diffs at higher masses align the trucks precisely to their applications.


Driving the New UD Quon


Overall Impression


Since the Volvo Group takeover of UD, the changes came slowly to begin with, but are now coming thick and fast. At times, it has seemed the overall strategy being followed by Volvo with regards to its Asian operation may have left the Australian arm of UD short of options. Recent launches have seen a clearer picture emerge, however. The Group is now following a two-pronged approach to Asia, offering cheap, unsophisticated trucks in the developing markets, but retaining a high level of sophistication for the advanced economies like Japan and, more importantly, Australia.


This has been exemplified by UD’s previous launches of the PD and PW models and has now been followed, with Quon brought up to speed and a close contender to European heavies.


Driving the New UD Quon


We can expect this trend to continue when an 8×4 version of the Quon emerges in the future. In the past, UD executives have been very coy about such a prospect, but they are now willing talk about its planned introduction – although they won’t be tied down to a date for its first appearance.


The inclusion of a fully functioning safety suite is likely to make this truck particularly attractive to fleet buyers who do not need a top-end prime mover but do have a duty of care, corporately. More and more, safety systems are likely to become standard across just about all heavy-duty trucks on the Australian market.



UD Quon Redesigned

UD Quon Redesigned

Looking at the UD Quon redesigned, it is without major structural changes, but the feel is very different. It still has a similar look to the Quon models it replaces, but with just a bit more style. The grille is a much larger hexagonal shape and gives the truck a much more modern feel. This, and the decision not to launch the trucks in white only, means the UD coming down the road will not look like just another Japanese truck.


UD Quon Redesigned


Power comes from the UD GH11TD 11-litre engine. This is based on the Volvo 11-litre engine design, but built in Japan and with engine mapping to suit the Japanese style. The decision, taken several years ago by Volvo, to not supply UD heavy-duty trucks with a version of the Volvo 13-litre engine was widely questioned here in Australia.


The answer to the critics is an 11-litre engine with a maximum power rating of 460hp (338kW) and with 2,200Nm (1,623 ft lb) of torque available to the driver. These are impressive numbers for a smaller engine and will do the job, if UD’s traditional durability has not been compromised. Volvo Group is not known for rash decisions, so we can assume substantial testing has taken place to ensure longevity in the driveline.


There are two more engine options available, both 11 litres with maximum power at 420hp (309kW) and 390hp (287kW), with torque ratings of 1,900Nm (1401 ft lb) and 1,750Nm (1,290 ft lb), respectively. Maximum torque comes into play as low as 900rpm on the 390, 950rpm on the 420, but at 1,200 on the top power 460.


The engine is set to be with us for some time as it meets the Japanese exhaust emission rules, which means it already exceeds any limits to be set when ADR 80/04 is introduced, early in the next decade.


“Our strategy has been to shift the focus towards heavy-duty product,” says Mark Strambi, Acting President, UD Trucks Australia. “There were a couple of months in 2017 when we were up to four per cent market share in the heavy-duty market. 2017 is the biggest year UD has had in heavy-duty truck.


“We have a truck we can use as a local B-double – that’s where our focus will stop. We’ll go from the medium range 350hp through to the 460.”


UD Quon Redesigned


The transmission is another of the staples of Volvo Group – a 12-speed automated manual transmission (AMT), this time called the ESCOT Vl, but the UD-programmed version of the I-shift. Adapted to suit the UD engine’s performance, it utilises the old-style gear lever–like control used in past Volvo trucks, placed where the manual gear stick used to be found.


The European influence can be found elsewhere in the specifications. The new Quon has gone to all disc brakes as standard, another indication of how this is a Japanese truck designed with a European sensibility.


One of the most obvious non-Japanese aspects of this truck out on the road is the inclusion of a ‘real’ engine brake. Drivers have become used to the typical exhaust brake, which may change the engine note but offer limited retardation. On this model, we now have a genuine compression brake offering effective retardation.


The Extra Engine Brake (EEB) has four stages – positions one to three offer increasing retardation from the engine, while four brings in down changes to maximise retardation.


Emphasising the Volvo Group nature of the new Quon’s specification is the array of safety systems, which come as standard on this model. The names chosen vary from elsewhere in the group – Traffic Eye, UD Stability Control, etc. – but the capabilities are those of the systems fitted to Volvo and Mack trucks.


UD Quon Redesigned


The cruise control that enables the truck to keep a safe distance from the truck in front, the capability for retardation and braking to be applied if a vehicle is getting too close, lane-departure warnings, plus stability control are all familiar to drivers of the latest European trucks. Here they are all available as standard on a heavy-duty Japanese truck. An alerts system telling the driver to slow or brake is also available as an option.


Apart from the flagship GW 26 460 at the top of the range with the highest power rating, available as both prime mover or rigid, there is also the GK 17 420 4×2 prime mover. Lower down the weight scale is the CW 26 390, which is a rigid 6×4 at 390hp. There is also the CD 25 390, a 6×2 rigid.


UD Quon Redesigned


This truck is lighter, with a lower tare weight than the models it is replacing. Servicing is improved, with fewer greasing points and unit hubs fitted. UD is saying there is a five per cent improvement in fuel consumption in Japan, but Australian figures are yet to be finalised.


Another move in the new Quon that further integrates the product across Volvo Group is the availability of a telematics program in the UD, which is compatible with the offering from both Volvo and Mack.



UD 8×4 On The Way

The new UD Quon is the finished product, now ready for market and there’s a UD 8×4 on the way. Diesel News examines the new Japanese heavy duty and sees it personifies the relationship between the brands in the Volvo stable.


UD 8x4 On The Way


Among the Japanese brands sold in Australia, UD trucks have always been the poor relation. The other brands have great strength in the lighter end of the market, and extend their ranges to play with the big boys in heavy duty.


UD has always had a more limited range – a couple of models in the medium-duty world and a few more in the lighter end of the heavy duty. They have sold well in the niches in the market the brand was suited to, but couldn’t offer the broad spread of models the other Japanese had at their disposal.


When Volvo Group took over the Japanese truck maker back in the 2000s, it was difficult to predict how any integration with the other brands – Volvo Mack and Renault – would pan out. It has taken until the last couple of years for the full picture to emerge and for UD Trucks to come to terms with its new identity.


If anything, this latest release from the company exemplifies just where the UD truck has come to and where it is going. With the new Quon, UD Trucks has a market-ready truck equipped to take on all comers in its segment.


UD 8x4 On The Way


“This just the beginning of the launch of the new Quon,” says Mark Strambi, Acting President, UD Trucks Australia. “Now, we are launching the 11-litre. In the future, we will have a much-expanded range – in the next 12 to 18 months, you will start to see that product roll out. There is a number of different axle configurations and there’s also a different engine. We will offer two engines in the future, an eight-litre and an 11-litre, with a horsepower range from 350 to 460.”


What we have is a truck that is very much a Japanese product, keeping all of the reassuring attention to detail we expect from the Japanese. It is, however, coupled with all of the latest technological equipment and safety systems we have come to expect from Volvo Group. It’s definitely a UD, and it definitely comes from the Volvo Group – and there’s an 8×4 on the way.


UD 8x4 On The Way


“We have launched an 8×4 Quon in New Zealand,” says Mark. “The project for an 8×4 in Australia is quite a comprehensive offer, and it’s not just going to be in the 11-litre. It will be developed and launched within the next 18 months. We are extremely confident about where it will fit in with the market.”


The technology transfer has taken a similar form to the changes in the Mack product. The same system is renamed for the separate brand but comes across in its latest form.


Truck Platooning in Japan

Truck Platooning in Japan

A field trial of truck platooning in Japan shows how the new technology is spreading across the globe and sees a much more cooperative approach to the subject from the Japanese Government.


Truck Platooning in Japan



The trial took place this week on a highway in Tokyo’s West. It is part of a project to bring the platooning concept to the Asian industrial giant. Japan, like many developed countries, suffers from an acute driver shortage and concepts like platooning are seen as a way of overcoming this problem.


Interestingly the project involves all four of the Japanese truck manufacturers we are familiar with in Australia, Isuzu, Hino, Fuso and UD. A company called Toyota Tsusho is also involved representing a number of interested parties, including the Japanese Government.


The trucks used in the first tests include representatives of all of the truck brands involved. Running in a tight group on the highway the 6×2 rigid truck held a spacing of about 35 metres apart as they headed down the highway at 80 km/h. These test drives are scheduled between January 23 and February 1 on Shin-Tomei Expressway southwest of Tokyo and on Kita-Kano Expressway, north of the Japanese capital.


The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) initiated the platooning test. It is part of the Japanese government’s Future Strategy 2017. This strategy aims to roll out innovations like the Internet of Things, big data and artificial intelligence across all industries. In the commercial vehicle sector, truck platooning is expected to contribute to the reduction of fuel consumption and to lower CO2-emissions. In addition, truck platooning will help with Japan’s dramatic driver shortage issue.


Japan is rated 11th in the world on the KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, well below the leading countries in the world, The Netherlands, Singapore, USA and Sweden. However, in the Index’s analysis of the readiness of the road infrastructure to handle autonomous vehicles and platooning, Japan is ranked just 3rd.


The issue for Japan is, in fact, consumer acceptance, which is very low, 16th in the world. Trials like those taking place in Tokyo are aimed at trying to allay public fears and mistrust of the new technology.


Hino Going Auto


Incidentally, Australia is ranked below Japan in the AVRI, at 14th. Although our consumer acceptance rating is much higher than Japan, France and South Korea, our road infrastructure is deemed well below the levels achieved in Europe. However, we are considered better prepared than New Zealand and Canada.


Overall, Singapore is reckoned to be number one in preparation of its policy and regulation, while the US is classified as the leader in technology and innovation, The Netherlands leads the infrastructure ladder and the highest consumer acceptance is in Singapore, a country which has lived with driverless trains for some time.


Another Aussie Win

Competitors from the Australian trucking industry consistently do well in international competitions featuring driving skills. This week a team from Australia won the UD Trucks Extra Mile Challenge 2015 global final.




The team, consisting of Clint Sheppard and Herman Kaczorowski from DGL, claimed victory at the UD Experience Centre and test track, adjacent to the UD Trucks headquarters in Ageo, Japan. Teams from Australia, South Africa and Japan competed in a series of truck industry and logistic challenges.


Based on real-world scenarios, the challenges included a pre-drive inspection, driving skills test, and a simulated pick-up/delivery route, with the competitors judged on revenue, fuel efficiency, uptime and maintenance costs, as well as safe driving.


The South African team was selected as the winners of ‘Best Fuel Consumption’ while the Australian team won ‘Best Pre-Drive Inspection’ with Japan being selected as having the ‘Best Driving Skill’. The overall winner was declared to be the Australia team.


“We’re really proud of the boys from DGL for taking out the Extra Mile Challenge global final,” said Jon McLean, Vice President of Sales for UD Trucks Australia. “They proved themselves as smart and efficient logistics operators. Clint’s ability behind the wheel certainly showed during the skills test and delivery route, whilst Herman’s experience input was invaluable. Together they made a great team, and clearly went the extra mile for their company and their country!”

Going the Extra Mile

In 2015, the UD Trucks Extra Mile Challenge had six contestants, competing over three tasks designed to replicate the metro delivery experience. The judges examined and marked the driver by the amount of time taken, delivery accuracy, obeying the road rules, fuel efficiency and a smooth driving style with no harsh braking or acceleration.


The tests involved a pre-trip inspection, accurately reversing into a simulated loading dock and driving around the course at the Mount Cotton Training Centre in the suburbs south of Brisbane.


…And the winner is…John Murray from Origin Energy



Of course, it’s all bigger and better in the US. The competition takes place indoors!


But when it comes to great driving skills, this guy gets the guernsey!

Work begins on new dealership

In the Adelaide suburb of Wingfield, a major new dealership is now under construction on a 4.3 hectare site which will eventually contain a 6,600 square metre covered facility. South Central Trucks’ new project will be the home for Volvo, Mack and UD Trucks in South Australia and is expected to employ over 130 staff.


South Central Trucks is part of the CMV Group. The new dealership amalgamates the existing South Central Trucks Mack and UD, and South Central Trucks Volvo dealerships, both located at Gepps Cross.


Development progress of SCT Adeliade - Showroom


Estimated for completion in September 2015, the new facility will feature 39 work bays in the main workshop, capacity for 70 prime movers to be parked and stored, four fully suspended B-double drive through service pits, overhead cranes in the main workshop, a VIS brake roller tester and vehicle shaker plates. There will also be a separate truck fit out workshop for new and used prime movers.


“The facilities will be some of the best in the world, allowing us to showcase our fantastic trucks and elevate our customer care to the highest level, whilst at the same time providing our staff with the best working environment possible” said Paul Crawford, CMV Joint Managing Director. “The decision to build this dealership represents a significant investment and reflects the confidence the CMV Group has not only in the future of South Central Trucks, but also Volvo Group Australia and the South Australian transport industry”.

Ekiden Saga

UD are now in the smart phone game business, it seems. This is the Ekiden Saga a new game launched by the Volvo-owned and Japanese based truck manufacturer. The game itself is a little confusing and clearly aimed at the Japanese domestic market and increasing the brand awareness for the UD brand.


Meanwhile, UD are still in the business of making trucks and here is a video about the first delivery of the new Quester model to a customer in Thailand. Quester is aimed for developing countries, particularly in Asia. Although this particular model is unlikely to appear here in Australia, some aspects of the design may start to appear on UDs sold here.