The Jixi municipal government, in China, through the government-owned China Special Automotive Group (CSAG), has signed a contract with local company the Virleo group for 181 multipurpose security vehicles.
Virleo owner Craig Savides says he has to deliver the sample unit, as well as 30 pilot units, to the value of R72-million, by the end of November.
The vehicles will be provided as knock-down kits, and assembled in China.
Each kit weighs around eight tons.
“We will ensure skills transfer to the Chinese company,” says Savides.
Following delivery of the sample unit and the first 30 units, Virleo will supply another 150 units to CSAG, he notes, bringing the order to 181 units.
After unit 100, the mechanical drive train of the security vehicle will be replaced with a hybrid drive train.
The vehicle platform Savides is supplying CSAG with is called a “modular all-terrain system”.
He says it is possible to build any type of body on this platform, according to customer needs.
Savides adds that the platform is assembled from various parts, such as axles, control instrumentation and engines, all produced by well-known existing manufacturers.
From these standard components, Savides and his team then create standard modules – such as suspension, power-pack, driver and chassis modules – which can be put together in various configurations.
“We can go up to 28 t and eight wheels.”
Bodies that can be fitted onto the platform include those of buses, trucks, and defence/armoured vehicles.
When the hybrid system comes into play, the platform is called Maths – or modular all-terrain hybrid system. This is a series hybrid diesel-electric system. “The result is a very flexible, green automotive platform that is future-friendly,” says Savides.
Assembly of the CSAG trucks, around 5,5 m in length, is happening at a Pretoria facility.
After completing delivery of all the units, Savides says that CSAG will acquire a licence from Virleo to produce their own Maths vehicles.
“We have registered a patent on the platform.”
Virleo is talking to Thailand and Malaysia to secure more contracts for the vehicle platform.
Savides says he is working hard to deliver the Chinese order, but laments the fact that he has received no support from government.
“I have an order, but no support. I get the idea government has money, but no idea how to spend it.”
Savides says there is an overall lack of government nurturing of home-grown technology in the automotive sector.