UD Quester: a construction truck to get the job done
UD Trucks is entering a new phase of development in which the company is designing, sourcing, manufacturing and pricing trucks specifically for customers in the Middle East
Demand for heavy-duty trucks is generally increasing with infrastructural development in growth markets. However, market feedback indicates that fleet owners are becoming highly price sensitive and selective with vehicle features due to tough economic conditions and a reduced appetite for new investments.
According to Mourad Hedna, president of UD Trucks Middle East, East and North Africa (MEENA), truck buyers are no longer attracted by the unwanted bells and whistles offered to them; instead they demand vehicles that can get their jobs done.
“Customers have told us they cannot afford premium vehicle brands of trucks anymore and that they don’t want fancy features they do not intend to use. They want just the right vehicle specifications for their jobs and at the best prices,” he says.
In response, UD Trucks recently unveiled new heavy-duty truck models in its Quester range, designed for off- and on-road applications in construction, distribution and long-haul transportation.
The new trucks, the 6x4R-40T and 8x4R, come with reinforced front suspension, higher ground clearance and two Euro III engine alternatives, an 8L (GH8E) and 11L (GH11E) engine. Axle positioning is available in different configurations such as 4×2R/T, 6×4R/T and 8×4R for distribution and long haul, and 6×4R/T and 8×4R for construction and mining work. The 6x4R/T and 8x4R are designed for rough conditions and particularly suitable for construction. The 6x2R/T is also provided with a bogie lifting axle for unloaded conditions. One of Quester’s main characteristics is its heavy-duty chassis and its various layouts that give a flexible packing arrangement including different wheelbases, a range of fuel tank sizes and different exhaust directions.
"Fuel economy is delivered through modern high torque engines, wide driveline and aerodynamic design. The Quester come with a real-time ‘fuel coach’, a system which shows the driver when to shift, brake, or accelerate for maximum time in the engines optimum fuel efficient rev range. Robustness is delivered through a chassis which offer many variants for different applications including hub reduction axles, 8x4 variants. The specific construction variant offers class leading ground clearance and approach angle. The long haulage variant offers a heavy duty cab which provides more room for the drivers in intensive operations,” says Hedna.
The strategy behind expanding the Quester range is to strengthen the company’s footprint the Middle East, a move that was initiated in 2016 when UD launched the Quester range in the MEENA region. The Quester range marked many firsts for the Volvo Group and UD Trucks in the region, making it the first heavy-duty truck platform designed for Middle East customers supported by dedicated industrial systems and aftermarket solutions.
Mourad Hedna, president of UD Trucks Middle East, East and North Africa.
Hedna points out that UD Trucks is entering a new phase of development in which the company is designing, sourcing, manufacturing and pricing trucks specifically for customers in the Middle East and other growth markets. UD aims to make the truck range affordable through local sourcing in Asia and other growth markets. The company has invested over $60 million in its plant in Thailand to add a production facility for UD Trucks and manufacture up to 20,000 units annually.
“UD Trucks has a strong tradition of developing trucks not only for the Japanese market but also for export to markets in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America. However, we have previously never developed products specifically for customers outside Japan. UD is the first Japanese brand to offer a wide range of variants developed to meet the different needs of all fast-growing markets at affordable prices, based on one common platform,” says Hedna.
“Quester is built and refined based on insights from customers’ day-to-day needs and knowhow gained from UD Trucks’ experience in Middle East and the Volvo Group’s global footprint. We wanted to design a more efficient truck with affordable prices in growth markets, to take part of the development in the fastest growing economies, and to locate production closer to overseas customers. By developing, sourcing and manufacturing the product close to the markets where it is sold, we can understand the specific needs of our customers in each market and make adaptation to the Quester range,” he adds.
As part of the Volvo Group, UD Trucks gains from a global system and network to meet the needs of customers in growth markets. Volvo has made significant investments in the already existing product line: the Quon and Condor, production systems, service network and the development of Quester, which is a part of the overall brand renewal. The Quon and Quester remain two different product platforms optimised for different customer expectations and legal requirements such as emission, payload and braking. The Quon is primarily optimised for Japan and other mature markets, and the Quester is designed for Middle East and growth market customers. For example, the Quester range is wider than Quon with specific offerings like the 6x2T and 8x4R.
“UD Trucks gain from the Volvo Group´s economy of scale. The Volvo Group brings UD Trucks an opportunity to grow and expand globally and to utilise Volvo’s knowledge and resources. The Quester range is not intended to replace Quon in mature markets, in particular in Japan. We will continue to develop Quon and Quester to be competitive for the respective segments and markets which they target. Having said that, we will adapt our offerings market by market,” says Hedna.
According to the company, the name Quester reflects a six-year quest for a solution for its customers’ needs and to deliver the truck range developed and designed for growth markets. In mythology and literature, a quest, a journey towards a goal, serves as a plot device and frequently as a symbol. Quests appear in the folklore of every nation and also figure prominently in non-national cultures. In literature, the objects of quests require great exertion on the part of the hero, and the overcoming of many obstacles, typically including much travel.
“The hexagon symbol that we have chosen has six corners, each of which represents a key word. They are tough, smart, distinctive, harmonized, caring and supportive. The key words for Quester are bold, rise and clean. Its target markets are growing aggressively and rising steadily,” says Hedna.
The Quester range was developed over six years starting from 2007, and the models were tested in real conditions for over a year in the Middle East.
“The Middle East conditions are tough, with the varied terrain, high temperatures and payloads. Over 400 experts spent 1,500,000 engineering hours and 65,000 tests hours to ensure the quality of the Quester. The 6x4R-40T and 8x4R complete the Quester model range and they combine the best of three worlds: UD’s heritage of Japanese craftsmanship and customer care, Volvo Group’s global technology and aftersales know-how, and cost efficiency through local know-how. Quester and its associated services are designed to offer efficiency and uptime for fleets. We believe that this is what customers need to be profitable,” says Hedna.
UD Trucks plans to expand its service packages to ensure vehicle uptime, offering buyers features such as vehicle introduction, greater availability of UD genuine parts and UD international warranty.
“To ensure that Quester trucks run in optimum condition for a long time in local markets, we will provide extensive customer service and aftermarket support. We plan to enhance our distribution channels through strategically located and authorised dealers,” says Hedna.