VOLVO is one of the most prominent technology companies in trucking, but even the engineers who have developed the new FH can accept that trucks in many Asian markets will be serviced rarely, overloaded constantly and washed never, so they'll need vast reserves of durability and strength.
UD has just launched an all-new heavy-duty truck range aimed at the trucking hell of Asia.
Certain elements of the new Quester design are certain to appear in Australian UDs over the coming years, but our need for higher horsepower and torque will mean our UDs will be sourced from Japan and sometimes the US.
The new range has a completely new cabin, designed specifically for the Quester in Volvo Group design studios and is flexible enough to be tailored to each specific Asian market.
It will be available as a 4x2, 6x4 and 8x4 and be powered by either the GH8E 8-litre engine, developed from the current UD 7-litre, and the newer 11-litre GH11E engine, developed from Volvo's global 11-litre.
Output ranges from 220 to 330hp and 850 to 1200Nm for the smaller engine, and from 370 to 420hp and 1700 to 2000Nm for the larger unit.
To keep costs to absolute minimums, gearboxes are all manual, with a six speed for the eight-litre engine (nine speed for the top power ratings).
Both gearboxes are available with the 11-litre engine.
The initial trucks are only available with steel suspensions.
It is probably going to be some time before the appalling roads and wafer-thin profit margins for trucking companies in Asia are going to enable air-suspended trucks to come into widespread use.
So its multi-leafs on the rear and taper-leafs on the front for the Quester.
Prime movers will use nine-leaf systems while the rigids use 11-leaf packs.
Quester is a truck clearly designed to absorb whatever Asian truck operators can throw at it.
The first trucks are being built in Thailand and will be sold into the south-east Asian truck markets.
In future, UD will build new assembly plants in India and China as the new range moves into these massive developing markets.
For the Australian truck buyer looking at a new UD, Quester will have little impact at this stage.
But key design initiatives will start to be introduced into the heavy duty offering from UD here.
The cab is an obvious example with its contemporary look and integrated design and it is likely to succeed the Quon cab we have been using in Australia for the past five years.
The skeleton of the truck has the look of a Volvo about it, reflecting the group's standardisation practice which allows small regional differences.
It is likely a version of this chassis will be adapted to suit the Japanese and other sophisticated markets such as Australia.
UD's Quester is another example of the global truck concept now firmly in place with major manufacturers, and it follows the introduction of the Bharat Benz brand in India.
Common components across several brand ranges that sell into vastly different markets allow significant reductions in manufacturing costs.
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