Story & Photos by Patrick P. Tulfo
WHEN Pioneer Trucks and Equipment Corp., the exclusive distributor of DAF trucks in the country, invited us recently to visit the DAF assembly plant in Taichung, we didn’t expect that aside from enjoying the sites and taste of what Taiwan has to offer, we will be leaving the country with a profound admiration for the fifth-largest chemical company in the world.
Wang Yung-Ching, the founder of Formosa Plastics Corp. (FSC), started the company from scratch and defied all the odds to rise all the way to the top. The tour at the museum dedicated to the founder of FSC, gave us a better understanding of why DAF Trucks of Europe decided to partner with the company in assembling and distributing the popular brand here in Asia.
The formation of Formosa Automobile Sales Corp. (FASC) in 2005 was born out of the FSC’s growing business and the company’s need to find a reliable truck for their fleet assembly that met their demanding requirements of durability and reliability in the long run.
The rise of the DAF brand in Taiwan is also a no mean feat, as it was up against formidable opponents from fellow European competitors, such as Volvo and Mercedes-Benz just to name a few, and not to mention the more popular brands in Japan, as well.
But innovations like “The Moving Showroom” wherein they go to different places in Taiwan to display their trucks, coupled with the tenacity of their sales people had helped them to gain the No.1 spot in the truck market today. In fact, most of their strategies have been copied by their competitors nowadays.
The 30,000-sq m facility where they assemble DAF trucks sits on a large property and was designed by Japanese engineers and despite being old, it was able to withstand the recent earthquake that struck parts of Taiwan with very little damage. Some of the rooms have been undergoing repairs and renovations when we went there. The factory churns out five units a day, or 900 trucks annually. The models that come out of the factory include CF, LF and XF, which are sold locally in their country and exported to markets like the Philippines.
The humongous facility where the trucks are being assembled are divided into several areas. The first building houses the parts of the trucks that come from DAF factory in Europe, some of which were still inside the wooden crates when we were shown around.
The next building is where the trucks are put together starting with the chassis, engine and finally the tractor head. The area is divided into different sections, wherein they have different sets of people working on the engines, the differentials and mechanical parts of the trucks.
Although, we had a hard time understanding our host for most part of the tour, we understood the importance of quality in every truck that comes out of the facility. During the tour, we met some Australians who were also on tour inside the plant, not journalists like us but to observe as the DAF facility will be rising soon in their country.
The last building houses the fully assembled trucks, mostly tractor type. This is where the painting, the wirings, and other final touches. Although, DAF trucks only come in one color, which is white, and different companies ordered specified colors, such as blue and yellow (just like the ones we saw). Aside from the colors, FASC can also further customize the trucks according to customer’s preference. And this is one of the reasons they became No.1 because they listen and follow what their customers want.
Benedict Go, president of Pioneer Trucks, also gave us some insights on what the markings
on the body of a Tractor head model that we inspected inside the plant meant. He said the numbers written on side of the truck represents the actual measurement of the truck and horsepower of the engine, as well.
DAF, which stands for Van Doorne Aanhawagen Fabriek, or simply Van Doorne’s Trailer Factory, is one of the oldest in the world as it started way back in 1928. The Dutch truck company is now under the control of Paccar, an American truck company that also manufactures the Peterbilt and Kenworth brands after acquiring it together with Leyland Trucks in 1996.
For those who are interested in DAF trucks here in the country, you may visit their office and showroom at 341 G. Araneta Avenue, Barangay Santol, Quezon City.