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UD Trucks in top gear and on a roll

As part of its continuing endeavours to go the extra mile for smart logistics with the most dependable solutions for a demanding, challenging and rapidly evolving industry, UD Trucks is committed to producing the finest trucks that meet the most stringent and tough performance, reliability and durability standards.

The November 2021 launch of the new series Euro 5 UD trucks at the Dubai Autodrome, ahead of the introduction of new commercial vehicles regulations in fast-growing regional countries such as the United Arab Emirates, which currently has a Euro 4 emission standard, and Qatar, is a milestone development and marks the opening of new road in the company’s quest to revolutionise the trucking industry regionally and globally.

The UAE and Qatar among other GCC and regionally countries which will be adopting Euro 5 emission standards by mid-2022. This move by UD Trucks allows businesses to better prepare for the switch to more environmentally-friendly fleets, as the Euro 5 range reduces emissions by about 43 percent compared to Euro 4 and significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the vehicles through cleaner emissions, the company asserted.

Founded in 1935, UD Trucks is a leading Japanese commercial vehicle solutions provider, active in more than 60 countries across all continents. Since its inception in 1935, the company has been an innovation leader with a clear vision to provide the trucks and services for today’s fast-paced world. UD Trucks is an associate company of the Isuzu Group.

Following the epic launch, Global Supply Chain conducted an exclusive interview with Mourad Hedna, President, UD Trucks, MEENA (Middle East-Europe-North Africa), who spoke expansively on a range of subjects that included the growth course of the company, its accomplishments, innovations its concerns and endeavours on the environmental front and vision for the future.

Global Supply Chain (GSC): How significant is the Middle East / GCC for your commercial vehicles and how is the brand faring in terms of sales in the region?

Mourad Hedna (MH): The Middle East is a key market for UD Trucks. The region is known for its tough terrain and harsh environment. But for many years our products have proved their ability to deliver excellent results and provide our customers with the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing they are operating products that are more than up to the tasks in hand.

As importantly, we enjoy partnerships with some of the leading local importers, who are committed to delivering the highest standards of customer service for their customers, consequently playing a significant role in our brand’s success. This has helped UD Trucks to register approximate 33% increase in sales across the MEENA region, over the past 12 months.

GSC: What is your range of commercial vehicles; what are some of your recent introductions and which are among your top selling models in the region?

MH: Our current portfolio comprises a wide range of trucks for multiple uses. We cater for different segments and customers with various needs, reflecting our strong innovative nature as we are the only Japanese manufacturer to offer fully automatic models across our medium-duty range.

In addition, we aim to cover all active segments in the various markets, helped by the fact that we have the widest range of heavy-duty trucks amongst Japanese manufacturers.

Our range currently comprises the Quester and Croner models, which have established strong reputations for themselves across the region since their introduction in 2017 and 2019 respectively. They have subsequently benefited from several upgrades to ensure they even better suit the market’s needs and demands. Both are well-known for their durability and quality.

Most recently, we launched the new Euro 5 versions of the Croner and Quester, along with enhanced Euro 3 versions. The launch focused on three key elements our objective to minimise environmental impact; improve the efficiency and uptime of the trucks; and increase profitability by lowering Total Cost of Ownership for our clients. The launch also came ahead of the introduction of new environmental regulations in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

GSC: Tell us briefly about the Euro 5 highlights and USPs?

MH: At UD Trucks, our primary objective is the customer’s satisfaction and peace of mind. For a fast-growing region with plans to introduce stronger regulations in regard to emissions, we launched the Euro 5 models as ahead of the region adopting updated Euro emission standards, which is crucial for UD Trucks as the brand shares the same vision of sustainability

Our strategic vision of a ‘Better Life’ is mirrored by the region’s goal to become more environmentally friendly. To continue the path of becoming a sustainability leader in the industry, we introduced the Euro 5 range in the United Arab Emirates, where Euro 4 emission standards are currently in place, and Qatar, which will adopt Euro 5 emission standards by mid-2022. In addition to minimising polluting emissions, these models also bring greater efficiency in terms of driving experience and ownership costs.

In terms of the models specifically, the Euro 5 Quester offers advanced features to benefit the customers, drivers and environment. The model delivers improved fuel economy by about 10 percent and is equipped with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, which has proven to be more reliable when compared to other emission control technologies for reducing emissions.

The model comes with advanced technology, such as the ESCOT automated manual, which automatically selects the right gear at any given time for the driver. It also features a lighter tare weight and optimised driveline.

The driver-focused Euro 5 Croner is available in three models: MKE, LKE and PKE. The truck delivers high levels of versatility as its wheelbase offers up to 21 different configurations to suit the specific demands of various industries. Fuel efficiency has also been improved by the model’s new aerodynamic cab design that reduces drag by 5 percent compared to previous models.

GSC: Briefly explain the upgrades to the existing Quester and Croner Euro 3 trucks and the implications?

MH: Our new Euro 3 Trucks benefit from numerous upgrades. They offer increased environmental-friendliness through the fuel coaching system, which enables and ensures optimum profitability for our customers in the region. Like the Euro 5 models, they are more driver-focused and receive the same upgrades, such as a new instrument cluster, ESCOT manual transmission feature, body builder module and the UD Trucks Telematics Services.

GSC: What opportunities and challenges for the present and future do you foresee going forward?

MH: The region offers extremely exciting opportunities for the truck market, but it does have its challenges, most notably caused by the impact of the pandemic. This has made planning difficult, but with a pragmatic approach and the ability to respond quickly to changes if required, it’s not impossible. Another concern relates to logistical disruptions that lead to elongated delivery timings, which the region isn’t quite used to.

A further challenge is one faced by our customers who we maintain very close relationships with. Delayed financial approvals lead to challenges in arranging finances for new requirements. This creates pressure on companies’ cash flows, which may end up impacting their purchase decisions.

However, we also see opportunities in the market. We know through the pace of the region’s development that addressing environmental concerns is key for the future. Our introduction of the Euro 5 range of trucks bears testimony to UD Trucks’ commitment to addressing this, as we prepare accordingly by ensuring complete peace-of-mind and allowing our forward-thinking customers to act.

In addition, we expect the construction and waste management sectors to expand in Saudi Arabia, and we foresee increased demand, in part due to the kingdom’s 2030 vision, which is set to increase the number of projects. In Qatar, we can see the country’s 2022 FIFA World Cup preparations are causing a final push, which we expect to result in growth in both segments of waste management and construction.

GSC: What are your brand strengths and how are you leveraging these to gain a larger market share?

MH: We have been a challenger brand and continue to push boundaries with regard to product development and innovation. One of our key innovations, the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, which we were the first brand to introduce back in 2004, is proof of our brand’s strength in pioneering and innovation.

It is within our nature as a brand to be constantly evolving, and recently, we have taken additional steps to ensure we are ahead of the industry, as evidenced by our introduction of the new Euro 5 range. UD Trucks continues to utilise the best of Japanese automotive manufacturing, blended with the support and expertise of Isuzu Motors and our partners throughout the region.

We are also pleased to share that we have increased our retail and wholesale by 25% in 2021 compared to 2020. A major reason for this milestone is the solid foundation we have built over the years for our growth. That, coupled with the range of products we offer and the strong relationships we have with our importers and partners in the region.

GSC: Tell us about your CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) activities particularly in the light of the growing public concern about sustainability / vehicle pollution and its impact on the environment?

MH: With regards to increasing environmental awareness, we have been at the forefront through our ‘Better Life’ commitment. Our introduction of the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) back in 2004, shows our pioneering of a technology to significantly boost environmental protection and fuel economy.

This is the core of the ‘Better Life’ commitment that drives the integration of sustainability across all our company’s operations and processes to realise lower environmental impact, higher customer satisfaction, higher profitability, and a better place for people to work and live.

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