UD Trucks are mounting a comeback in the one sector of the Australian truck market with the other medium duty truck from Japan, the Croner, leading the charge. Diesel takes one out on the roads of Brisbane to assess its potential.
The medium duty truck market in Australia is dominated by the Japanese truck brands, which consistently represent around 90 per cent of truck sales between eight and 16 tonnes GCM. In the last couple of years, UD has reduced sales of trucks in this segment as there was a gap between the last of the Condor models delivered into Australia and the arrival, this year, of the new Croner.
This new model sees the UD brand move away from the lower end of the medium duty sector and push a little further into the lighter end of the heavy duty market. Where the Condor came in with an MK, PK and PD configuration, Croner is simply PK and PD.
Both of these models are, essentially, the same truck. One is configured as a 4×2 and the other as a 6×2. These models’ introduction means that UD Trucks now has a range in Australia which can compete from the 15 tonne GVM Croner four wheeler through the 24 tonne GVM Croner. The range also includes the Quon 8-litre engine 6×2 and 6×4, the 11-litre engine powered 8×4 rigid and 6×4 rigid and prime mover.
UD seem to have decided to leave the lower GVM end of the medium duty market to the white-hot competition between Isuzu, Hino and Fuso. The company is looking to its traditional core market as a fleet truck in metro and intrastate distribution, plus giving itself the ability to successfully tender for the lucrative and long running Australia Post 4×2 and 6×2 market.
The truck on test for Diesel this time around is the 4×2 Croner with a driveline which is the same throughout the Croner offering, the 280hp (206kW) at 2200rm 7.7-litre GH8E, which puts out 1,050Nm (774 ft lb) of torque. This proved to be a strong performer in the heavier Quon models tested by Diesel, so it makes easy work of sitting in a 4×2 chassis.
Sitting behind this engine is another proven performer: The Allison 3000 Series six speed fully automatic transmission. If any truck wants to compete in this segment of the market, this has become close to a standard option. In fact, on the Croner, it’s the only option. With 5.57:1 rear axle ratio, this equates to 1800rpm at 100km/h.
Out on the road, the performance of the engine, especially when coupled with the Allison box, makes life so easy for the driver. The pedals are simply stop and go buttons and the driveline just does the rest. When approaching red traffic lights, the driver simply takes the foot off the gas and pulls on the exhaust brake. The transmission does the rest, pushing up the revs to use the retardation.
This kind of set-up is ideal for the kind of work this truck will be asked to do all of its life, racing from traffic light to traffic light to keep up with a busy delivery schedule. The driver can concentrate on all of the other things they need to be aware of and not be changing gears to keep momentum up. Even the worst drivers end up driving this smoothly.