Renault Trucks has launched its new construction vehicle ranges in the Middle East, bringing what it claims are new levels of driver comfort, reliability, fuel efficiency and durability to the region.
RENAULT Trucks has unveiled two new ranges of construction vehicles to the Middle East market, describing the introduction of the C and K truck ranges as a “significant commitment” to a region it has served for more than 40 years, and where it has bold growth ambitions.
The vehicles were introduced at the largest-ever launch event held by Renault Trucks in the region. More than 250 industry professionals and leading management officials from across the region attended the two-day event in Doha, Qatar.
“We foresee double-digit (sales) growth for 2015,” says Lars-Erik Forsbergh, president of Renault Trucks Middle East.
The new construction vehicles – along with the D range of distribution trucks launched in 2013 – are the culmination of an eight-year journey of planning, design, manufacture and testing costing €2 billion ($2.49 billion) and involving some 5,000 people.
According to the company, the new vehicles were subject to the most rigorous testing programme it has ever carried out, including five million hours of test bench trials.
“We started with a blank sheet of paper in 2006,” recalls Thierry Hours, vice-president in charge of renewing Renault Trucks’ construction and long distance ranges. “By October 2008, we had three options for exterior design, and three for interior design. We decided to go for the most radical change, a non-traditional approach. When you design a truck you don’t design it for five years like a car. You design it for 15 years.”
By 2012, the first trucks rolled off the production line in Lyon, France. Then last year, 50 of the company’s customers – who had been closely consulted on design and specifications from the outset – were invited to push the new vehicles to their limits of reliability and endurance in real life, often extreme, conditions.
In Oman, one of the Middle East’s toughest proving grounds, one truck from the new K range, laden with 120 tonnes of aggregate, racked up more than 100,000 km over the course of a year, without incident, for the customer Oman Rocks.
Against this background, Renault Trucks believes that the new range amply demonstrates the company’s three brand pillars of robustness, productivity and business value as it aims to secure a position as one of the region’s top three heavy-duty truck brands.
“That’s quite tough because we are up against the best in the business,” Forsbergh concedes. “All the big truck producers from Europe are here, and they have their own growth ambitions.
“But our range is the newest in the market. And you need good local representatives who are respected, who have the resources, the ambition to grow with you and are ready to make the necessary investments. You need to have all these pieces in place,” he continues.
Renault Trucks arguably already has those pieces in place, with a regional network of distributor partners in 13 key markets and 36 dedicated service centres across the region. Working closely with the company, these partners will help promote what Renault Trucks says are the standout qualities of the range – ruggedness, driver comfort, payload, pulling capacity, easy body mounting and state-of-the-art technology.
The company claims that the C range offers superior driver comfort, exceptional reliability and optimal fuel efficiency, with fitted steel corners and protective headlight grids. With a 312-mm ground clearance under the axle and an approach angle of 24 degrees with the bumper, the trucks have a greater obstacle clearance capacity, it says.
Performance is optimised with an off-road mode as standard on the Optidriver transmission, adapting the gearshift for driving on construction sites. With its optimised curb weight, the C range offers what the company describes as an “outstanding” payload, which can be as much as 31 tonnes for an 8x4.
Meanwhile, the K range vehicles offer what Renault Trucks claims is the best approach angle in the market (32 degrees), making them ideal for heavy construction.
“The greater (380 mm under the axle) ground clearance and the excellent approach angle of the K range allows them to clear significant obstacles and deliver outstanding pulling power, over any terrain,” says a company spokesman.
“Their high precision steering and tight turning radius makes them extremely manoeuvrable. The Optidriver gearbox is available on the C range as well as on demanding applications and the all-wheel drive models of the K range,” he continues.
The C and K ranges are considered ideal for materials transport and delivery. Where site access is limited and a fitted crane is required for unloading, the chassis on both truck models can be reinforced and no major modifications are necessary to install additional loading equipment.
For concrete transport, both ranges offer numerous options for improved payload including aluminium wheels and a choice between fuel or air tanks.
For the transport of heavy machinery, meanwhile, the DXi 11 and DXi 13 engines offer 330 to 500 hp output. The PMR 2661/3361 drive axle is capable of towing up to 100/120 tonnes, while the improved Optidriver gearbox can pull up to 100 tonnes on the C range and 120 tonnes on the K range.
And for earthmoving applications, Renault Trucks says its K range, in particular, is ideal for transporting heavy loads over damaged surfaces.
Renault Trucks’ new range of construction vehicles is supported by services which, it says, help ensure each truck is a profit centre in its own right. Downtime is minimised, thanks to a dense network of regional sales and service points. Some 50,000 parts are stored at a warehouse in Jebel Ali, UAE, ready for rapid distribution to customers across the region. This centre also offers a range of commercial and technical training courses to ensure customers get the very best performance from their asset.
Renault Trucks is understandably optimistic about the new range and, given the Middle East’s positive construction sector outlook, is further entrenching its commitment to key markets.
In Saudi Arabia, where annual heavy truck demand currently stands at 12,000 to 13,000 units, the company is building a new CKD (complete knock down) production line at King Abdullah Economic City, north of Jeddah, in joint venture with local partner Zahid Tractor. The facility will have the capacity to assemble up to 1,000 trucks annually when it starts production in September 2015.
“To be competitive in the Saudi market, you need to have local production as the big players do,” Forsbergh explains. “Zahid Tractor is a well-established importer with a very dense and well-developed service network in the country.”
Elsewhere in the Gulf, the company’s new range will complement the experience, expertise and commitment of local partners. In Qatar this includes Al Attiya Motors, which has invested QR40 million ($11 million) in a new state-of-the-art workshop to support increasing customer demand, which Renault Trucks forecasts will grow at 30 per cent from 2012 to 2015.
In Oman, local dealer International Heavy Equipment (IHE), a subsidiary of Zubair Corporation, plans a “large investment” in new facilities in Muscat in 2016 to complement its truck service centres in Muscat, Sur, Sohar and Salalah. And in the UAE, where Renault Trucks is represented by Al Masaood in Abu Dhabi and Al Rostamani in Dubai, an ongoing construction boom has doubled the market for heavy trucks between 2012 and 2014, with the promise of more to come.
Major reconstruction efforts in Iraq (where Renault Trucks has a 3,000-trucks-per-year assembly facility) and Egypt, where huge infrastructure schemes like the Suez Canal Development project should inject life into the construction sector, also fuel optimism.
“We feel the Middle East has a great future, full of opportunity,” says Bruno Blin, President, Renault Trucks. “We are part of this adventure and want to increase our participation in it.”