The Croner name is derived from ‘Chronos’, the god of time in Greek mythology and fits well with UD’s positional phrase of ‘making every moment count’ in reference to on-road efficiency and maximised uptime.
In the form of the UD Croner, the global reach of the Volvo Group has facilitated the melding of the best points of European and Asian commercial vehicle engineering and manufacturing know-how, and includes a degree of Australian input as a catalyst.
UD Trucks have undergone a metamorphosis during recent years with the UD Quon staking its claim as being worthy of consideration in appropriate heavy duty applications and the UD Croner has now entered the medium duty category with similar credentials and ambitions.
From its genesis as far back as 2013, the UD Croner was always going to be more than the then Condor medium duty model with some plastic surgery or a ‘face lift’.
There are many areas where the Croner is much advanced over the Condor and it can now step up to become a serious player in the medium duty sector.
Launched in Thailand in 2017 the Croner was first introduced to the Australian market at the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show.
The Croner is manufactured in Thailand at a facility which originally produced Volvo and later Ford passenger cars. The Bangkok facility also builds Volvo trucks and buses and is the source for the Volvo FM, FH and FMX cabs used at Volvo’s Australian manufacturing plant at Wacol in Queensland.
The impressive quality of Thai manufacturing capitalises upon the underlying engineering of the various components which also incorporates a significant level of Australian input.
The Croner’s overall finish meets the Volvo Group’s world standards including for factors such as paint and corrosion protection.
The Croner’s development involved 1.7 million engineering hours and in an effort to ensure the truck’s durability, a fleet of 100 test vehicles covered 1.5 million kilometres of testing in the harsh conditions found in such varied locations as the United Arab Emirates, Peru, South Africa, India, and Thailand.
The Croner has never been intended for the Japanese market, and that decision has facilitated a wider influence into its design and engineering, including a high degree of input from Australia.
The Croner is available in Australia as the PK 18 4×2 with 17.5 tonne GVM and the PD 25 6×2 which has a 24.5 tonne GVM. All PD models have 8mm high tensile frame rails and the PK frames are 7mm or 8mm depending upon the specific wheelbase. GCM for both models is 32.0 tonnes.
Externally, some subtle aerodynamic improvements have reduced the cab’s co-efficient of drag by five per cent compared to the Condor cabs.
The Croner’s business-like cab exterior and interior belie the sophisticated mechanical and electronic engineering operating behind the dash and under the cab.
For Australia, the only transmission available in the Croner is the Allison 3000 Series automatic which is a double overdrive six speed equipped with a lock up torque convertor.
Much of the development of the transmission mapping was conducted locally by UD’s Brisbane engineers in consultation with the team at Allison.
The low maintenance 7.7 litre engine (commonly referred to as the eight litre) is from the Volvo family and provides 206kW (280hp) at 2,200 rpm and the maximum torque of 1,080Nm is on tap from as low as 1,100rpm, delivering strong pulling power and easy driveability in concert with the Allison which is controlled by the familiar button pad mounted on the engine cover and is superbly integrated into the Croner’s driveline.
The engine meets EuroV emission standards using its SCR system which draws AdBlue fluid from a 50-litre tank. This is essentially the same engine which is available as an alternative to the eleven-litre in the heavy duty Quon, albeit with a 57kW (75hp) lower power rating.
Fuel efficiency is assisted, and service intervals and engine life are extended, through the engine’s design and also in the ‘down-speeding’ of the engine with the standard rear axle ratio now changed to 5.57:1.
The 6.17:1 ratio, as used in the Condor, is still available as an option in the Croner, although the extra 180Nm of torque from the Croner’s engine compared to the Condor’s probably makes the lower gearing unnecessary except in extreme circumstances.
The Croner certainly has plenty of ‘go’, which is nicely balanced with its braking abilities provided by the exhaust brake and the anti-lock self-adjusting ‘S-cam’ brakes on all wheels which maximise braking power and vehicle stability thanks to the Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) system.
Prime Mover had the opportunity to have a brief drive of a local-spec 6×2 manual Croner tanker in Thailand, followed by a more extensive road test in Queensland of a couple of 4×2 PK18s – one a curtainsider and the other a tipper and both loaded to achieve approximately 11 tonnes gross weight.
Pre-trip procedures are performed via the front hatch above the grille which provides easy access to check fluid levels.
The driver’s comfort is maximised due to the air-suspended seat which has adjustable damping and provides plenty of range in its height, tilt, and fore and aft movements to complement the steering wheel’s tilt and telescopic adjustments.
A driver’s airbag and seat belt pre-tensioners contribute to the safety levels and the cab itself has ECE R29 strength compliance.
A sleeper berth is an unlikely requirement for most of the imaginable applications for a truck of this size, but the bunk with its 527mm wide mattress will make a comfortable resting area during extended breaks.
The rear of the centre seat folds flatter than in the Condor, offering a usable workspace.
We count a total of 23 visual warning lamps arranged in a logical set out on the instrument cluster screen plus there are other warnings capable of being displayed on the driver’s information screen.
This smaller screen also supports the driver with the Croner’s fuel coaching system.
The 6.1 inch touchscreen media unit has many features including a CD/DVD player, digital and internet radio, Bluetooth and is Wi-Fi enabled. A truck specific satellite navigation system is incorporated and the drivers’ manual is available to be viewed on screen.
Twelve months subscription for the UD Telematics fleet management system (similar to Volvo Dynafleet) is included and produces usable reports covering topics such as operations, efficiency and emissions.
The Croner has a dual setting road speed limiter which has the security of being password protected against interference. There is a 24 volt power socket on the dash and a 12 volt outlet on the centre console.
The Croner has more wheelbase options than its predecessor to allow for a variety of applications such as distribution bodies, tilt trays, tippers and refuse compactors.
Applications requiring a PTO are well accommodated with the Allison’s side or ‘one o’clock’ access flanges plus an option for a PTO drive at the rear of the engine.
The front suspension uses parabolic leaf springs which are lighter and should provide a longer life and an improved ride than multi leaf alternatives. A front stabiliser bar is standard equipment, providing good stability for applications with high centres of gravity such as tankers and agitators.
At the rear there is the choice between multi-leaf springs or air suspension sourced from the Volvo Group CAST (Common Architecture and Shared Technology) listings. The PD 6×2 road friendly rear air suspension utilises Volvo Group sourced components rather than those of a third-party supplier.
It is obvious a lot of thought has gone into the ‘future proofing’ of the Croner, particularly in areas such as the underpinning electrical architecture with CAN bus integration to assist body builders, as well as self-diagnosis features in the Engine Control Unit.
In the form of the Croner, UD Trucks have set out to design, develop and manufacture a medium duty truck platform which is unsurpassed in its category in terms of quality, efficiency and durability while being easy to drive and straightforward to service.