Making a truck from scratch
The development of the new PW truck from UD was a bit like making a truck from scratch. It began with the base chassis from the 4×2 PK models. To this was added a 6 mm inner chassis liner to beef up chassis strength. This was also the basis of the 6×2 PD, released in 2015. Moving to tandem drive axles is not a simple matter of adding a drive axle. The installation of suspension, as well as air and electrics, must be reconfigured.
Looking at steel suspensions, the six-rod set up from the heavier CW model has been used. The four-bag HAS 460 air suspension from Hendrickson is a well proven option in this market. The axles come from Meritor.
Power for the new model is developed by the UD GH7TB seven-litre engine, which has been sold in Australia for some time. This puts out 280 hp (206 kW) at 2500 rpm and the torque available tops out at 883 Nm (651 ft·lb) at 1400 rpm. Emission control uses an SCR system and does not need a DPF.
In a move which indicates the way this segment of the truck market is moving, the only transmission on offer at launch is the Allison 3500 fully automatic option. This likely reflects the high proportion of Allison-fitted trucks UD are already selling , which is probably higher in UD than in any other Japanese brand.
Using the 3500 gives the ratios being used a wider spread, improving gradability and startability in lower gears at higher masses. The spread goes from 1:4.59 in first all of the way to 1:0.65 in sixth gear.
“A couple of things were interesting for us, in the truck’s development,” said Ben Chamberlin, UD Product Manager. “We have an SCR engine, we don’t have DPF or EGR, so we are able to use the electronic brake interface which helps the transmission gear down to about 200 kW of braking effort. This enables us to gain some good retardation benefits.”
However, this area of the market is new for UD Trucks. The P Series models are basically a 4×2 design which has been stretched to the 6×2 format, relatively successfully. The CW model, which is the lightest of the truly heavy-duty UD models is far too much truck for this segment of the market.
In Australia, there are around 2,000 trucks sold in the medium-/heavy-duty cab-over sub-segment and, of these, 1,800 are built by Japanese truck makers. UD has been unable to compete adequately in this sub-segment, as it did not have a competitive truck. The PW fills a gap in its range with a serious potential for growth.
“This is the way UD is going to go into the future,” said Mark Strambi, UD National Sales Manager. “Our focus on new product, moving forward, is into the heavy-duty market. The 6×2 model we have been selling, the PD, was being reported in the medium-duty segment, because we were adapting them locally from a 4×2 chassis.
“With co-operation between Japan and our local engineering team, we have now got a factory-built PD, so it enters the country as a 6×2 and is reported in sales figures, as such.
“Looking at truck sales in the heavy-duty truck market next year, our intention is to get to 4.5 per cent market share. Now, that is a quantum leap. Quon sales will remain very similar to this year, at 140–160. Early in 2016, due to technical issues at the factory, we had a considerable shortage of our product, so we started the year very slowly. In the second half of the year, we made some significant growth getting to 3.5 per cent of heavy duty in one month.”
The introduction of the PW range is expected to boost those numbers further to get to the intended target. This is not quite such a bold prediction as it would appear. All of the Japanese brands, bar UD, have been strong players in the lighter end of the heavy-duty market and a precisely targeted entrant like the UD is likely to pick up decent sales, as a result.