UD Trucks Southern Africa (UDTSA) has re-entered the light-duty truck sector with the launch of the new Kuzer.
Once a stellar performer in this segment of the truck market, the Japanese truck maker has been without a light-duty vehicle in the South African truck market since 2015.
UDTSA faced “quite a challenge” when it lost its light-duty truck range, says MD Gert Swanepoel, “so this is quite good news for us”.
“It will put us in a better position to improve the viability of our dealers.”
The Kuzer has been developed with a focus on emerging markets.
The current single model line-up consists of a six-speed manual transmission 4 x 2 freight carrier, with a gross vehicle mass of 8.9 t, which means it is allowed to travel at 120 km/h. The RKE150 has a wheelbase of 3.85 m.
The 3.8 l Euro II in-line four cylinder engine produces 112 kW at 2 800 rpm, and 400 Nm of torque between 1 400 and 1 800 rpm.
Air-conditioning, cruise control, electric windows and a fuel coach system are all standard.
The dual-panel cabin is slightly larger than usual, also offering a six-way adjustable seat and a soft-touch, tiltable steering wheel.
UDTSA marketing director Rory Schulz says the Kuzer targets the urban distribution market, while it can also be converted into a small tipper, for example.
The Kuzer can be supported from UDTSA’s mobile workshops, he adds.
“We come to you if needed.”
Schulz says Kuzer owners can also stay connected with their fleet through “advanced onboard diagnostics”.
“Our technicians can also monitor your truck remotely.”
The Kuzer is currently imported as a fully built-up unit from India, but the UDTSA plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria, will add the small truck to its assembly line-up in 2020.
The Kuzer is currently produced in the same plant as Eicher trucks.
Eicher is also a truck brand within the Volvo Group.
“But this a UD truck, with UD technology and UD heritage,” emphasises Volvo Group Trucks Asia & Joint Ventures Sales Jacques Michel.
Volvo Group Truck Asia and Joint Ventures president Håkan Karlsson says a recent investment in UD Trucks’ South African truck plant has ensured “quite an improvement from a quality and efficiency standpoint”.
He adds that the Volvo Group “remains fully committed to the UD brand in the South African market”.
Schulz says the four-year wait for UD Trucks to re-enter the small truck market in South Africa had to do with “Volvo group strategy and priorities”.
“What is happening now is that we are starting to find our place in the group.”
The Volvo Group acquired UD Trucks in 2007.
Karlsson adds that it was a “pretty big decision” to again enter the small truck market with the Kuzer. “So we have to believe we’ll be successful.”
He adds that a meeting with South African dealers in 2017 indicated that local dealers wanted to have a full range of UD trucks available in the domestic market.
UDTSA hopes to sell 300 Kuzer units in the South African market this year.
11% Fuel Saving
The heavy-duty Quester was originally aimed at emerging markets. However, some markets have since evolved into demanding more from its workhorses in terms of payload, fuel efficiency and safety, says Schulz.
Sales in South Africa have also not quite met expectations, adds Michel.
The new Quester now also offers Escot automated manual transmission (AMT); a 440 hp engine; an almost 800 kg drop in tare mass, which means greater payload; improved ride comfort; an electric tilt cab; a retarder for long-haul operations; a larger cab and increased driver comfort, as well as UD Telematics, which allows owners to manage their fleets more efficiently.
Schulz notes that the Escot transmission can save operators in South Africa up to 11% in fuel compared with a manual transmission, depending on the driver.