All-new Croner makes global debut

In Photo: Different models of the all-new Croner lined up during our assembly plant tour.

Story & photos by Randy S. Peregrino

LEADING Japanese total transport-solution provider UD Trucks recently staged the global launch of the all-new Croner in Bangkok, Thailand.

The surprisingly ergonomic and comfortable cabin of the Croner.

Joining its sibling Condor in the medium-duty range, it’s being tapped as a versatile carrier built to go the extra mile.  With a brand name derived from Greek mythology’s god of time Chronos, it’s an absolute personification to keep businesses on the move and uninterrupted.

“UD Trucks believes that more time spent on the road and less time in the workshop adds up to the success of our customers’ business. It is our aim for Croner to make every moment count, through maximizing productivity and minimizing downtime on every run our customers make,” said Jacques Michel, president, Volvo Group Trucks Asia & JVs Sales.

Same platform, different builds

(From Left) President of Volvo Group Trucks Asia & JVs Sales Jacques Michel, President of UD Trucks Thailand Kamlarp Sirikittiwatn, President of UD Trucks Yoshihiro Murakami, President of Volvo Group Trucks Asia and JVs Håkan Karlsson and Senior Vice President of UD Trucks Brand and Product Nobuhiko Kishi

UD Trucks offers the all-new Croner in three variants to meet various types of business applications and demands. Cunningly utilized the same cab frame, it boasts of a modern, stylish and aerodynamic front-end design.  The manufacturer even managed to split the platform further to different gross weights, wheelbase lengths, tire proportions and powertrains, among others.  Not to mention, the reinforced chassis frame adapted the cold rolling process.  One is the 10- to 11-tonner MKE compact size, which is intended for urban setup and deliveries, with better maneuverability to tackle constricted roads.  Wheel sizes range from R16 to R17.5, respectively.  Then there’s the 13- to 14-tonner LKE multi-purpose model, which aims inter-city delivery operations.  Its wheel measurements, however, span from R19.5 to R20 separately.  Both models offer a wheelbase range of 3,750 mm to 5,500 mm, depending on the frame setup.  While both MKE and LKE are fitted with the same GH5E 5.1-liter, inline four-cylinder, SOHC, turbocharged diesel mill, the output varies depending on the build.  Interestingly, the engine’s yields range from 180, 210 and 240 hp at 2,200 rpm, with 750, 825 and 900 N-m of maximum torques, correspondingly, between 1,200 and 1,600 rpm.  Coupled gearbox is available in six-speed manual and automatic.

The MKE 180 version, which is the lightest and smallest in the Croner lineup.

The PKE, on the other hand, is a 15- to 17-tonner medium heavy-duty for interdistrict, long haul and heavier load purposes.  Total wheelbase length stretches up to 6,500mm, and wheels are even bigger at R19.5-20.  Moreover, its GH8E 7.7 liter mill is not only bigger in displacement, but has two more cylinders.  It also generates distinctive but more powerful ratings of 250 and 280 at 2,200 rpm with staggering figures of 950 and 1050 N-m of maximum torques starting at 1,100 to 1,700 to 1,800 peak rpms correspondingly.  Likewise, it is mated to six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes with a nine-speed manual as an added option.

These new engines are both equipped with combined advanced technology, reliability and performance. Both motors provide better pulling power, improved fuel efficiency, less maintenance and longer engine life.  It matches the class-leading axle loads for that extra durability in handling high loads, which, in turn, promotes more productivity.  And aside from the leaf sprung rear suspensions with variable damping grades, there’s an air suspension option available to further improve the damping controls.  Even the brakes are made more dependable. The main air-operated S-cam type drum brakes came in standard with both the antilock braking system (ABS) and electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) as added options. More so, there’s the standard exhaust brake system, which works well with automatic transmission versions to downshift whenever needed.

The PKE 250 variant and medium heavy-duty version of the Croner.

“Automatic transmission can be seen as a game changer for the truck industry in the Asia region as it helps lower cost and downtime, as manual transmission is more susceptible to wear-and-tear, especially to its clutch in a long run,” said Nobuhiko Kishi, senior vice president for brand and product of UD Trucks.

Total cabin convenience

For a delivery truck, the cabin interior is remarkably ergonomic, which promotes ease of driving.  Aside from all controls are within reach, the helm is reach/rake adjustable for better maneuvering. In fact, there’s even an available information display flashing critical status.  More so, the integrated fuel coaching system, which came standard across the board, is really impressive. Even those multi-adjustable seats wrapped in high-quality and fire-retardant textile are also comfortable enough. All models also have sleeper cab variants, which offer more room to relax and have bunk mattress.  Moreover, there’s cruise control, climate control and audio system.

When we took the Condor models for a short spin around the facility, this was exactly what we experienced. More than the dynamics, which was understandable due to the short distance, we totally felt cozy and unperturbed. Operating the automatic variants was even more stress-free. But the manual versions with soft clutch pedals were also manageable even when the shift stick is on your left (right-hand drive configuration).  Helms are soft and easy to turn, as well.  When founder Kenzo Adachi envisioned building “the truck the world needs today”, it seemed like UD Trucks already surpassed that.

The all-new Croner medium duty range is expected to arrive in the country within this year.  And with UD Trucks’s own principle of going the extra mile, they’re determined to capture a substantial share in the market along with the more popular brands.

Image Credits: Randy S. Peregrino