UD might not have as extensive a model range as fellow Japanese OEMs, but where it does choose to go head to head with them, it will usually do so on better than even footing.
Especially the Australian division, now part of the Volvo Group, isn’t afraid to put in the work to create something special to stand out from the crowd, and the team’s latest build, a prototype 6×2 tagged CD 380, is testament to that.
Designed to appeal to the growing rigid and dog market, the CD is based on a 4×2 Quon CK model that has been converted to 6×2 by the fitment of a lazy axle. The engineering work has been carried out in Australia, with Japan responsible for the build of the prototype.
In fact, UD stresses that the CD is still very much at the development stage, with our test vehicle being the first complete unit to be released to Australian roads. According to UD, there are currently two more cab chassis available in the same specification, which have passed the Australian Design Rules and received the relevant compliance plates, but have not been completed as yet.
Designed to achieve a good mix of low tare weight and fuel efficiency, the local UD says the CD will be considered a success if it can get a sufficient volume commitment from the dealer network – which is still to be assessed.
Yet, response to this first unit has been “very positive” and UD says it is confident that the project, which only kicked off in December 2014, will have the backing to go ahead in the next 12-18 months. The long-term plan includes placing the CD truck and dog combination with a number of operators for extensive assessment under real life conditions to ensure that the new Aussie model is up to the task in all aspects before bringing it to market.
Given current market developments, the project called for a 14-pallet rigid truck coupled to a 10-pallet dog trailer in a 19m combination with a GCM of 45 tonnes – a figure that should provide the UD with an advantage over the competition in this category, most of which are rated at 42 tonnes or so. What’s more, it would avoid internal competition in the Volvo stable, at least to a degree.
Before we take the CD prototype for a drive, let’s look at the spec sheet. The GH11 engine is sourced from Volvo, assembled in Japan and displaces 11 litres. Rated at 380 hp in this application, it produces 1790 Nm of torque from as low as 950 rpm. For our test rive, the total weight is only slightly over 33 tonnes, but the engine seems more than capable of handling maximum weight on any of the big climbs around Australia. Compared to the discontinued 13-litre option, the 11-litre engine also has weight and fuel consumption advantages – plus it is readily adaptable to the Euro 6 emission standard when stricter regulations are eventually mandated in Australia.
The transmission in our test vehicle is the ESCOT V automated manual transmission, which is the UD version of the successful Volvo I-Shift unit. 12 speeds are achieved with six full gears and a splitter, which disengages in certain circumstances to effect the fuel saving ESCOT-roll feature (known as I-Roll in Volvo applications).
Previous tests have shown that the transmission technology is second to none and engages the right gear at the right time almost all of the time. For drivers who can’t resist taking control, arrows suggesting shift points are on the dash display when manual mode is selected, but the technology is so advanced that it will often achieve a comparable or better result. For example, it is able to use load and incline sensors to select the start off gear and can choose between two reverse gears to make docking as easy as possible.
To obtain the benefit of using ESCOT-roll, the transmission must be in auto mode and the engine retarder must be in the off position. The retarder is operated by a wand on the right side of the steering column and provides four levels of effectiveness via combinations of exhaust and engine compression brake mechanisms. We’ve experienced the effectiveness of this retarder in the past when driving a slightly higher-rated UD GW 420 fully loaded down Cunningham’s Gap without touching the brake pedal once, and it will again prove successful should the CD make it to market.
The prototype cab is a standard suspended UD unit with a Sony sound system and an upgraded telematics unit that is now also standard in Australia. The multi-function touch screen media unit includes the display for the Driver Information System and the NAVTEQ satellite navigation system, which is able to point out load restricted routes as well as over-height obstacles for maximum planning efficiency.
The body itself is slightly set back, leaving a gap between it and the cab to avoid overloading the front axle under Australian regulations. For the same reason, the fuel tank is located behind the rear axle as another factor in weight distribution. The rear airbag suspension on our prototype is a Hendrikson HAS460 and provides a smooth ride that looks after the driver, the cargo and the road surface. The wheelbase has been extended from the standard single axle CK’s 6,500mm to 6,600mm on the CD.
The result is a highly innovative truck and dog combination that could well leave a mark in this growing market segment. While 6×2 combinations could have a disadvantage where traction is an issue, the increased payload and better fuel economy could certainly make for a winning package should the CD eventually make it into the UD catalogue.