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Time for Croner in the region

UD Truck’s Croner medium-duty truck was unveiled at an expensive-looking and glitzy launch ceremony in Dubai’s Studio City last month but this is a vehicle aimed at fleets with modest budgets.

There was a time when the Middle East, or to be more precise, the GCC largely ignored the marketing blurb about efficiency and driver comfort that was emblazoned over manufacturer brochures. Fleets purchasing has been pretty much based on three Ps: price, prestige and payload for decades. However there has been a slow but significant shift in buying habits towards trucks that run for longer and offer a better total cost of ownership effectively opening the door for manufacturers that may have previously been seen as niche brands.

Despite falls in the crude oil price, diesel has continued to creep upwards. The UAE’s ministry of energy’s latest figures, for instance, show that the price of diesel rose from AED 1.6 last May per litre to AED 1.97 in May 1017 – an increase of 13 percent. Inflation is also continuing to rise. Furthermore, the introduction of VAT, while placing more funds into the government coffers which in turn could stimulate project financing, will also put more pressure onto fleet and contractor costs.

The Croner has been named after the Greek god of time because the manufacturer prioritised vehicle uptime during its development, but the launch could also prove timely for those in the market for new trucks. Designed with customers’ demand and business needs in mind, Croner is engineered to help UD’s customers stay ahead of competition through the simple concept of saving time.

“UD Trucks understands that more time spent on the road and less time in the workshop drives success for our customers’ businesses,” said Mourad Hedna, UD Trucks Middle East, East and North Africa president. “It is our aim for Croner to make every moment count, through maximising productivity and minimising downtime on every run our customers make.”

UD Trucks has designed the Croner range specifically for growth markets across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and South America. It is also a rare example of a major release of range in this region coinciding with a global launch.

Prior to the May event, Jacques Michel, president, Volvo Group Trucks Asia & JVs Sales, UD Trucks explained to CBNME that the truck had already been deployed by a customer in the region as part of its global test programme.

“We have been testing and running the truck for 1.4 million kilometres in six different countries, some that are very high altitudes like Peru. It is running on the roads of Thailand and Indonesia, as well as South Africa,” he said.

The founder of UD, Kenzo Adachi, was keen that his company built the “truck that the world needs today” and Michel said that customer feedback shaped the Croner’s development. Consequently, the desire of buyers to get more bang for their buck from their trucks was scribbled onto the Croner’s design boards in Japan.

“When we start with a concept, you have a lot of ideas internally. Fortunately we have a lot of people with great ideas which is good but the most important thing is to listen to customers,” he explained to CBNME. “We had to find out about their experience with UD Trucks, how they see the future changing. We worked with our customers all the way through the development. We went out of our design centre in Japan and went to the market. I think that has been the most important thing.”

The net result is a truck that meets UD’s aims of producing a reliable and versatile truck range built with robust and quality components with the promise of delivering extra productivity and superior uptime.

Croner offers options for three gross vehicle weight (GVW) models: MKE, LKE and PKE; and their wheelbase variants, offering up to 21 different configurations to suit specific demands of various industries. Additionally, the air suspension on all variants is available as an option to protect customers’ cargo, especially when travelling on rough road conditions.

“The 11t has been a backbone in the past,” Michel told CBNME. “Of course construction is very big so you’ve got a mixer and tipper which can support that segment and infrastructure developments and general construction.”

UD Trucks has been part of the Volvo Group since 2007 and a decade down the line, its latest range retains its strong Japanese heritage and craftsmanship but also utilises Volvo Group’s global technology and sourcing while plugging into local manufacturing and customer support.

“Further to that, with UD Trucks’ ultimate dependability standard and gemba spirit [a Japanese word meaning where value is created] incorporated in every aspect, each component is the result of years of development and stringent stress testing, a true testament to the Japanese hallmarks of quality,” says the company.

‘Going the Extra Mile’ is a brand promise of UD Trucks. The focus on fuel efficiency, uptime, reliability and drivability, while meeting today’s high standards for safety and environment, enable UD Trucks to provide Middle East customers with, what it claims is the best products and services in the market to meet their business needs.

UD Trucks offers a comprehensive set of what it labels UD Extra Mile Support services, such as UD Genuine Service and Parts, UD Driver Training, and UD Trust Service Agreements. These, the company says, were developed to ensure its trucks, such as the Croner, run and remain in optimum condition to go the extra mile, saving minutes, hours, and days over the years.

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