The COVID-19 pandemic will re-shape the way fleets operate for years to come but fortunately the release of this month’s Truck Book Pro is an opportunity for businesses to find the trucks, products and services to side-step the challenges they now face.
Arguably there has never been a greater choice of vehicles in the market for a start and we are seeing many of the features for improved safety and efficiency that would have once been unavailable in the region. The past few years have seen most of the major OEMs release major upgrades or even new generations of their biggest models. Years in the planning and shaped by a decade of economic uncertainty, these are vehicles that arrive here targeting maximised uptime and fuel economy.
Daimler now incorporates both the Mercedes-Benz Trucks range of familiar heavyweight names such as the recently refreshed Actros, Arocs and Atego, as well as the light and medium ranges of the Japanese Fuso brand. Both product line-ups are fully in line with the National Agenda of the UAE with the target to reach the goal of a better air quality as set out by the government’s Vision 2021 programme by offering trucks complying to Euro 5 emission standard from LDT to HDT and low fuel consumption throughout the range. With many of the trucks on offer at the premium-end of the market, they also focus on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
“When it comes to investing in a truck, it is important to consider the TCO to ensure that you are looking at the total picture,” says Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA “Whether it is buying a new truck, having your truck serviced, or buying new parts, it is important to think beyond immediate price, and consider all of the factors that will affect your profitability. Factors like fuel efficiency, uptime, telematics, safety, quality, and resale value all of these contribute to your TCO. TCO goes further than simply the price of a truck. Always speak to the sales representative about the TCO prior to investing in a truck. State-of-the-art safety systems, to mention only the Lane Keeping Assist and Active Brake Assist not only save lives but less accidents help minimise repair costs and downtime.”
Scania, meanwhile, is leaning into its extensive experience in modular solutions to demonstrate its ability to take local fleet requirements to create vehicles that are specific the customer: “With Scania’s modular system we offer great possibilities for the customer to get the right specification for his operation.”
Scania can offer everything from 2-5 axle vehicles, small-large cabs (L, P, G, R and S cabs), crew cabs and engines ranging from 9-16L. A formidable engine producer in its own right, it is able to cope with a large variety of applications from power generation, industrial and marine but it is looking to explore the possibility of CNG-fueled vehicles in the region: “By using CNG vehicles, Scania achieves Euro 6 emission regulations while reducing the Total Operating Cost. 2020 started with the delivery of 29 Euro 6 coaches to one of our prestigious customers in Abu Dhabi and the delivery of 30 R460 A6x6 Tractor Units to Saudi. It was also the year when we accelerated our efforts to provide more comprehensive service solutions to our customers by bundling vehicles with service contracts and customized financial solutions. Despite the pandemic, we managed to deliver more or less the same number of vehicles in 2020 as in 2019.”
Traton Group stablemate MAN Truck & Bus has enjoyed a ‘significant’ year in the region; delivering 80 units of the New Lion’s Coach in Saudi Arabia; a ‘very special order’ from Morocco for 100 city buses; and recently gave the New TG Range of trucks following its 2020 global launch.
MAN Truck & Bus Middle East has told Truck & Fleet Middle East that orders have now opened on the new range trucks which it says has been developed based on customer feedback: “Our trucks have always been considered as highly reliable and able to withstand rugged use over the product’s typical operating life, while delivering best-in-class performance. The new vehicles also impart best-in-class safety and comfort.”
The company is also celebrating 15 years of operations in Dubai. “Completing 15 years is truly a momentous occasion. We offer to customers our complete range of trucks, buses, genuine parts, service and training. The Dubai office is also a regional training hub providing support to importers in MEA region. Our assurance is the best-in-class TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), which makes MAN a preferred choice for many customers. Over the years, we have worked towards building strong relationships with our customers with a commitment to simplify their business.
“Our vehicle park in these markets comprise trucks that have clocked millions of kilometres, yet are still in operation, and buses that continue to provide sustainable public mobility to many cities. The common factor across all the markets are satisfied and happy customers.”
Few brands enjoy the customer base of Renault Trucks in North Africa and the company continues to build on its track record in the region while bolstering its market share in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt.
Renault Trucks is upgrading its T, T High, C and K ranges in 2021, bringing major improvements in terms of driving comfort, on-board comfort, safety and productivity. Sleek and modern in design, the new trucks promise reduced fuel consumption (fuel savings are expected to be at least 3%), and optimised maintenance, this is the most important evolution since the total renewal of the ranges in 2013.
Its vehicles are adopting a more assertive style, particularly in terms of the headlights, which have been reduced in size in order to increase the painted surface of the lower body section. The cab’s aerodynamics have also been improved around its new honeycomb grille and wheel arch extensions which have been added to improve airflow. The vehicles have been fitted with new technology to further reduce fuel consumption.
Renault also wants to prove that one part is not equal to the other and buying genuine parts will make a difference.
“Customers can trust that it is selling the right product for their vehicles. To launch this two-year warranty worldwide at the same time was a strong message to our customers that it believes in the quality of its parts,” says the company.
Its Used Truck operation has very quickly established itself as an alternative for regional customers wanting the newest T generation of trucks with Euro 3 engines as well as the ruggedised versions set-up via refurbished used units from Europe.
Renault Trucks’ factory in Bourg-en-Bresse has been converted to handle the refurbishment of used trucks for markets such as the Middle East and it is now running at full speed with 500 trucks transformed in 2020. The last two years have seen the introduction of both the X-Road and X-Port haulers into the region. A third truck, the T X-Road 64 launched last year with the French truck-maker recently openly declaring it wants to compete with Chinese players in Africa.
While UD Trucks officially moved from Volvo Group at the start of 2021 to Isuzu, its trucks still share a lot of the DNA of its former sister companies, including Renault. In the MEENA (Middle East, East and North Africa) region UD Trucks focuses on heavy and medium duty trucks and both the heavy Quester and medium Croner have had major revamps in recent years. And both ranges were put through their paces in the region ahead of launch.
The Quester range has been purposely-designed with a combination of robust chassis, a true heavy duty cabin and an optimised drive-line in terms of performance and durability. Productivity is also increased, with a higher payload capacity – you’ll find a wide variety of specifications on wheelbase and axles that can help maximise payload. Available in both Manual and Automated manual transmission options, the Quester, in particular, is designed for handling heavier loads in tough conditions.
Through the Croner, UD Trucks is the first Japanese manufacturer to offer the automatic Allison transmission on its trucks. The automatic transmission makes it perfect for stop and go operations such as waste management and city distribution. UD Trucks has created a reliable and versatile 4×2 truck range built with robust and quality components to deliver extra productivity and superior uptime: “Rated for the all-important 10.4–19T segment, it has been designed with customers’ demands and business needs in mind. Croner was tested extensively in the region during development and is engineered to help customers stay ahead of competition through the simple concept of saving time.”
Most of the world’s OEMs rely on their dealer importers in the region to keep them close to market demand and changing fleet requirements.
DAF and Ashok Leyland partner Swaidan Trading, Al Naboodah Commercial Group’s commercial vehicle and equipment-arm, found itself rapidly adapting to the shift in market demands created by the global health crisis in 2020. With a strong focus on specialised projects, itts fully equipped, state-of-the-art workshops have in-house fabrication facilities for customising vehicles to meet the specific requirements of the end user, from mobile clinics to wheelchair access vehicles and more.
In 2020, it also Trading modified 110 Peugeot Expert vans into Mobile Service Centres for the Tawseel initiative delivering door-to-door government services by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. It also supported the Dubai Taxi Co. and Union Coop during the COVID-19 pandemic by converting Ashok Leyland Falcon buses into mobile grocery outlets as part of community initiatives to bring supplies to families during the lockdown periods.
This year, it converted a further two Ashok Leyland Falcon buses into mobile grocery stores for the Al-Ain Co-op society, including shelving, chiller and freezer units, generators, air curtains and cashier counters, enabling the business to reach out to remote areas or small communities where shops aren’t located nearby. This highly specialised modification contract was the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi, and required a special ‘Supermarket Bus’ code to be created in the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport’s vehicle registration system.
Al Naboodah Commercial Group’s COO Ajit Kumar says the company’s resilience during the pandemic was due to its ability to respond to unique demands created by the health crisis. “Our high levels of technical expertise and our versatile and agile scope of operations allowed us to offer specialised services to our customers without any major changes to our infrastructure. We were able to capitalise on our existing resources and skillsets to deliver unique projects that set us apart in a competitive industry.”
Fleets and contractors are turning to rental outfits to help cover gaps in the roster. The company has used its experience with UNIC Spider Cranes to partner with the trucking professionals to introduce the UNIC Truck Mounted Cranes line. According to the company, UNIC Cranes are renowned for their mobility, rugged reliability and high productivity. Mounted on heavy, medium and light duty trucks, these compact straight boom telescopic cranes are the crane of choice in Japan. Manufactured to the highest standard in design, durability and safety, the cranes ensure optimum performance on the worksite.
Since separating from parent company Orientals Specialist Lifting minicrane and lift specialist Spider Plus says it has gone from strength to strength: “Drawing on a decade of vacuum lifter and mini crane experience has allowed for a rapid growth. The company philosophy of safety, integrity and customer satisfaction has quickly fed spider Plus to become the leading solutions provider within the glass lifting mini cranes and equipment training market. Our fleet is one of the largest of its kind in the Middle East.”
Creation Heavy Equipment Trading has been in operation since 2007; serving a wide range of clients in a sector, such as construction, Oil & Gas, transportation and heavy equipment while fulfilling the needs of both the private and government sectors. Creation is a leader in the GCC market providing integration solutions, telematics, IA products, IoT through sales, and telematics fleet management to deliver up to date fleet information. It is also highly active further afield in the Middle East, including Jordan, and is branching out into Africa.
According to managing director Mohammed Hasan Al Qrinawi, safety concerns on the road or at construction sites are at a high demand in the region and accidents remain costly: “We could eliminate many of these through our latest IA technology that protect against driver fatigue, provide collision mitigation and camera streaming systems that monitor driver behaviour.”