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Monday, February 6, 2023
Home Features Interview: UD Trucks and the importance of strategic thinking

Interview: UD Trucks and the importance of strategic thinking

T&FME talks to UD Trucks about life under ISUZU and expanding its UAE network

Truck & Fleet Middle East has been following the progress of UD Trucks in the region for almost a decade. Once an up and coming newcomer as part of a Volvo Trucks triumvirate alongside its more well-established (in the region at least) brands of Renault and Volvo, it is now a bonafide option in its own right for fleets looking for European reliability with Asian robustness and affordability.

It is also now under the wing of ISUZU and keen to pass on the message that fleets will see few changes under the hood and better all-round support for their operations. The latest medium duty Croner and long-haul Quester updates certainly impressed in our test drives at launch and Jacques Michel – SVP International Sales was in recently in Abu Dhabi to talk about the move to ISUZU and the expansion of its UAE network.

In a special media briefing covering a number of topics (“Saudi is doing super well, there’s a revolution going on there, the transformation of Saudi is unbelievable”) he explains that UD Trucks will continue to benefit from a strategic alliance between ISUZU and Volvo and is preparing for an exciting future in the region and beyond.

“There’s three pillars under that strategy. One is creating the biggest Japanese OEM in the commercial vehicles business. The second one is creating a technology alliance. The technology transformation of our industry requires electro-mobility. This is very simple thing which everybody talks about, right? On the road this morning, you could see more and more electric cars here. And I say even because here is not where the oil price is the most expensive. What does it take to get this game? Then it probably means a lot of money of investment, you need to get the scale of economies. To be able to do that, you need mass production. And that’s one of the biggest pillars of our strategy.”

Turning to the third part of the strategy, he says that it is important for both ISUZU and Volvo Trucks to see how they can combine efforts in future business development. He suggests to T&FME that rather than looking at UD Trucks as being under a different umbrella, the focus should be on the technologies that both parties in the Alliance will bring to the table as they confront a new era in transportation.

“On driveline technology, for example, and electro-mobility and connectivity, we are working towards an alliance. There could be a lot of things happening behind the scenes,” he teases. “We have a new 100% shareholder that is ISUZU and that’s not something to hide. What does it bring to the table? It brings a position of strength in the segment and when it comes to new technology development.”

He adds: “We will be very happy to invite you in a couple of months to see the outcome. The future, I can promise you, is fantastic.”

Michel is sitting with Mourad Hedna, UD Trucks’ president for Middle East, East & North Africa, to discuss the opening of their new dedicated service centre in Mussafah alongside Hanni Tannir from local partner Al Masaood Commercial Vehicles and Equipment. Hedna says the brand-new state-of-the-art service centre will help UD Trucks to meet growing demand without compromising on quality or customer satisfaction, and by putting a high value on uptime it will provide “uncompromising support” to fleets in Abu Dhabi.

The new facility doubles UD Truck’s servicing capacity, providing service space for 30 trucks and 12 body repairs. The number of technicians has also increased substantially from 21 to 39.

“We have done fantastic work here in Abu Dhabi will Al-Masaood in waste management, for example,” continues Michel. “I can promise you with what’s coming on the back end, we will be fully aligned with Al Masaood…we don’t need other brand partners here.”
Coming back to the theme of collaboration, Mourad Hedna says that while UD Trucks can now focus on dedicated local support, on a macro – global – scale the company must continue to work with others in the industry. In fact, the whole industry must continue to work together to confront the challenges of truck development as we head into the middle of the 21st Century.

“Everybody is working with everybody as you cannot do everything yourselves,” he explains. “You see in Europe, two big competitors Daimler and Volvo have a joint-venture. ISUZU and Honda also have a very strong fuel cell partnership. There are a number of uncertainties as you don’t know which technology will ‘win’. I think for us we have access to ISUZU and Volvo as part of the 20-year partnership in technology deal. So, it will add more benefits for us.”

Having covered the three main pillars of UD’s strategy the conversation moves to a fourth: Sustainability.

“We want to be a sustainable business, because if we are not profitable we will not be sustainable but then we have a fourth pillar which is towards the environment. We want to be the Japanese sustainability leader,” says Hedna.

The opening in Abu Dhabi
By focusing on providing and delivering the highest quality customer service and after sales support, the new Abu Dhabi workshop reflects the commitment of both UD Trucks and Al Masaood to positively contribute to the Abu Dhabi and Al Ain communities in accordance with the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision, which seeks to develop a resilient and sufficient infrastructure that can support economic growth in the years ahead.

Hedna says: “At UD Trucks, we strive to provide uncompromising service support, which means adhering to efficient and clear standards. The unwavering premium service that we aim to deliver needs to be complemented by having the right instruments to execute our approach.

“We firmly believe that our long-standing partner, Al Masaood, will serve our customers in their newly established location with unmatched tenacity, providing excellent aftersales services and ensuring our promise, To Go the Extra Mile.”

The workshop is expected to strengthen UD Trucks’ market share by providing ‘sustainable’ aftersales services, while Al Masaood commitsto providing the highest standards of support to UD Trucks customers on a larger scale. Also included in the expanded workshop will be a large parts warehouse, which will result in faster turnaround times.

Mohammed El Zeftawi, general manager of Al Masaood Commercial Vehicles and Equipment, says Al Masaood CV&E Division and UD Trucks have enjoyed a long-lasting relationship that is built on a shared vision of offering customers sustainable end-to-end sales and aftersales services.

“Our much-anticipated M40 facility will help us achieve our common objectives and will further strengthen our relationship,” he added. “Besides offering excellent after-sales services on a larger scale, the new workshop also has a sizable parts warehouse, which will greatly reduce turnaround time, further enhancing the overall customer experience.

“We look forward to continuing to build our partnership with UD Trucks, which was established in 1981, as part of our commitment to consistently improving the experience of our customers in the region.”

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Stephen Whitehttps://truckandfleetme.com/
Stephen White was formerly editor of Big Project ME.
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