The JMC Conquer is a familiar-looking Chinese truck. It appears to be based on the Isuzu N Series, not surprising after JMC’s previous cooperation with the Japanese truck maker. The cab is clearly closely related to the current generation of the Isuzu cab. Diesel News took to the highway in one model to see how it performs.
All-round visibility is good, the windows are large enough, well positioned and the mirrors are also effective. The instruments are also clear and concise – speed in the middle, with tachometer and fuel levels on the left and air pressure and engine temperature to the right. No AdBlue level gauge, perhaps you have to wait until a warning buzzer comes on and you can then top it up?
The controls on the dash work well and the entertainment system is only one generation behind that we see in most Australian trucks. It does fill a double DIN slot and does work, the sound is good and it has all the driver needs, unless they are looking for Bluetooth connectivity. Maybe next time.
One issue new models often get wrong is the drinks holders in the cabin. JMC has scored ten out of ten on this truck. The drinks holders are large enough and robust enough to hold a full 600ml bottle of coke or a takeaway coffee comfortably, without spilling and close the driver’s hand, below the air vent, next to the door.
Out on the road with the JMC, when the truck gets up to a bit of speed, one of the issues with this truck becomes more obvious. The truck uses multi-leaf springs front and back and they appear harsh from the driver’s seat. Driving through road works can be uncomfortable and the vibrations come right through the cabin. The truck feels stiff and uncomfortable for the driver.
The situation would be a little better if the JMC driver’s seat was suspended, but it is not. It is firmly bolted to the floor of the cabin. We have become used to, at least, taper leaf front springs, or more recently, independent front suspension. At the rear, we are used to a taper leaf helper to take the sting out of the multi-leaf.
Going to taper leaf springs on the front would make a great improvement, as would a suspended seat. Even a re-evaluation of the suspension tuning by the importers might give the driver some relief. The fact the suspension feels smoother on some different road surfaces suggests tuning may be an issue.
All in all, this JMC Conquer shows us just how the Chinese knowledge about dealing with more sophisticated truck market is developing. This is the third incursion into the Australian truck market by a Chinese brand and we have seen each one improve on it predecessor. First there was the Foton, then the JAC, and then the Foton again, under a different importer. Now, the JMC product has ticked more boxes than those who came before.
Early models didn’t have the finishing we expect, even at the bottom of the market and were short-lived. The second wave of the Foton did quite well in terms of fit and finish, but has not set the world on fire. This JMC is unlikely to set it on fire either, but it does have the potential to be in the game, to be a realistic alternative to a second hand Japanese truck.
It’s the next stage in development that may turn out to be a bit tricky. It’s an okay product, but then it needs a good network, to get the trucks and the name out there in front of the truck buying public. This something even the well-established brands struggle with, at times. However, if JMC can develop some presence and are seen to support the product, the way the customers have come to expect, then there is a chance this will be a brand which does establish itself.
If JMC doesn’t make the grade, we can be sure the next Chinese entrant to the Australian truck market will make an even better fist of it. The fact is a substantial presence in our truck market for Chinese brands is inevitable. It is not a matter of if, but when.