It has been a long time coming, but another Japanese truck maker, UD comes to the eight legger party. This is a configuration which makes a lot of sense, but Australian Design Rules had limited its potential, until now.
With the introduction of the 8×4 Quon from UD Trucks, the Australian truck market is seeing the full extent of the Japanese truck maker come to fruition, as part of the Volvo Group. Development dollars have been spent over the years getting a Volvo, then a Mack and now a UD to meet the unique load sharing requirements for twin steer trucks under the Australian Design Rules (ADR).
The ADR says a twin steer must have a load sharing suspension in order to comply. Australia is the only country in the world to make this stipulation and this has meant the truck makers of the world have been unwilling to throw too many development dollars in this direction when it is only needed in one country.
The rules on axle weights are also designed to work against the use of twin steers on our roads. A single steer axle can be loaded to 6.5 tonnes in most cases, but two steer axles can max out at just eleven tonnes as a pair.
This rule is enforced in most states, but in the exception, Western Australia, the number of twin steer trucks are considerably higher, without extra damage to road surfaces or safety concerns. In fact, in many cases the twin steer option can be argued to be the safer option, providing inherent stability and minimising issues around steer tyre blow-outs.
Having said this, the constant striving for productivity and flexibility in fleets has seen the 8×4 growing in popularity and there are even a few 8×2 knocking about as well. This has developed despite the attitude of regulators. An extra tonne on the twin steer would start to make two front axles much more attractive.
By introducing the 8×4 now UD is arriving in a market in which it has not competed before with a fully formed truck with a lot of potential customers’ boxes ticked from the outset. The safety and telematics packages which comes as standard on all product emanating from the Volvo Group means this truck is at the leading edge of the kind of high tech being introduced into Australia’s truck fleets.
The latest release from UD Trucks is an 8×4 with a few target markets. The obvious one is the concrete agitator segment, which is always looking for a lighter and safer option. Then there’s the waste market with front loaders needing twin steers to remain legal and a constant search for low tare with flexible chassis dimensions to fit a body onto. There is also some demand in distribution with a diminishing load pushing more and more weight over the front axle(s).
“We have targeted this truck mostly for construction, waste and distribution,” says David Roset, UD Trucks Product Manager. “For the eight litre models, we have a mix of specs, using the shortest wheelbase and the Allison transmission, but for the longer wheelbase we will be looking at waste industry front loaders and tipper applications. The longest wheelbase for the eight litre will be for distribution with a 14 pallet body option.
“The 11 litre is a very good fit for mining specifications. On the shorter wheelbase it is a good base for a powerful tipper.
“We think that 80 per cent of the new owners of these UD Quon 8×4 trucks will be completely new to UD Trucks,” says David. “I, myself, think that safety is one of the major points about this new Quon.
“We have the radar and camera at the front of the truck, in UD language, the TrafficEye, in plain English this is active cruise control, automatic emergency braking as well as lane departure warning. There is also stability control and brake blending.”
Future developments may, however, be changed. This Quon was designed by a team in UD Trucks and also part of the Volvo Group of companies. The next iteration of a truck like this is not going to be quite the same. The team will still be in UD and have access to some Volvo technology, but the global ownership will be in the hands of Isuzu and decisions will be made to benefit the two brands, Isuzu and UD.
How these changes are likely to play out over time is anyone’s guess. What we do know is the latest set of Quons to hit the market have seen the brand break new ground and reach new heights as a result of the introduction of the latest technology and well-pitched specifications. The truck has an eight inch touch screen with all of the bells and whistles we have come to expect from a modern truck in this electronics-driven age.