4th edition of Mahindra Transport Excellence awards held at Delhi

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Article by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

The award’s recent edition took stock of the contribution made by transporters to the diverse Indian transport sector.

The 4th edition of the Mahindra Transport Excellence awards was held at Delhi on February 15, 2015. Drawing the who’s who of the Indian road transport sector, the awards honoured various outperforming personalities in the sector in an effort to recognise their contribution. Based on parameters like performance, excellence, innovation and leadership, the awards attracted 2,300 entries (with multiple case studies for different categories) – 20 per cent more than last year. The two new categories, spares retailers and the safety category (for hazardous and non-hazardous goods), were introduced at the behest of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), which extended its support to the awards for the second consecutive year. The event, which saw the giving away of awards in 36 categories, began with a panel discussion chaired by Sanjay Bandopadhayaya, Joint Secretary, Government of India, MoRTH. Members included Jasjit Sethi, CEO, TCI Supply Chain Solutions, Prof. G Raghuram, Dean of Faculty, IIM (Ahmedabad), V L Patankar, Director, IAHE, Dr. Manoj Singh, Advisor, Niti Ayog, Gaurav Karnik, Partner – Tax and Regulatory Services, Ernst and Young LLP, and Sourabh Rohilla, Deputy Director, SIAM. The topic of discussion was, ‘Is India Ready for Global Road Transport Practices and Role of Road Transport in Multi-modal Transport Solutions.’

Addressing the gathering, Nalin Mehta, MD and CEO, Mahindra Truck and Bus Ltd. (MTBL), reiterated his company’s commitment to continue, strengthen and make more relevant, the awards initiative. Bharat Rajamani, Director and Solution Champion – Marketing and Advertising Risk Services, provided the Ernst and Young certification for fairness and transparency to the initiative. Expressed Anand Mahindra, CMD, as commendable the initiative to educate truck driver’s girl child under the Saarthi Abhiyaan. 

Drawing attention to 1,000 scholarships given in FY15, and another 1,000 scholaships which will be given out in FY16, Mahindra said, “In a small way, this will lead to the transformation of the mindset towards women folk; especially the girl child.” Chief guest, Road Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari averred that his ministry plans to construct 30 km of highways per day to boost Indian road transport network. Stressing upon the modernisation of RTO procedures towards toll permits and vehicle registrations, the minister announced that in the future no trucker will have to visit RTO or get stuck at toll, which will increase his or her productivity. Gadkari emphasised upon environment friendly fuel options and technologies.

While Rhenus Logistics, Dinesh Roadlines and Globe Ecologistics bagged the most coveted awards introduced for the first time, prominent CV Financiers like ICICI and AXIS Bank took away the top honours in their category. Lady ‘dhaba’ owner, Ravinder Kaur, got a standing ovation for her exemplary contribution towards truckers on NH-2 by extending state-of-the-art food and rest care facilities. As ‘Super Outperformer Driver of the Year’, Kumaraswamy and Thanarasu won a brand new Truxo 25. Eight winners among fleet owners received awards in the four categories based on load applications. In his speech, Dr. Pawan Goenka, ED and President, AFS, Mahindra, highlighted MTBL’s contribution towards knowledge, and about initiatives like MPower, War Room and Mentors Summit, which are the signature properties with IIM, Ahmedabad, as the knowledge partner. In the presence of lady trucker, Yogita Raghuvanshi, LPG transporter from North East, Hema Prava Devi, bagged the ‘Lady Transport Personality of the year’ award. Vikrant Kapoor of M/s. Kapoor Diesels bagged the ‘Youth Transport Personality of the year’. Given away for the first time in the history of this initiative, the lifetime achievement award went to D P Agarwal, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of TCI Ltd. His son and joint MD of the company, Chander Agarwal, received the award on behalf of D P Agarwal. 

We are on the verge of signing an agreement with Mekra Lang for commercial vehicles.

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Article by: Anirudh Raheja

Dr. Ravi Damodaran,

President, Technology & Strategy, Varroc Group

We are on the verge of signing an agreement with Mekra Lang for commercial vehicles.

How does Varroc Group
connect with the commercial vehicle industry?

At our Aurangabad plant, we manufacture huge crankshafts – forged and machined. We have started small volume supplies to ThyssenKrupp, which is the largest crankshaft maker in the world, for their 6-cylinder engines and also to Cooper Bessemer, which is the biggest stationary engine manufacturer, for both their 4- and 6-cylinder engines. For Indian OEMs like Tata Motors, we are developing crankshafts for 4- and 6-cylinder engines to power M&HCV. We also cater to Meritor, USA. Products like crankshafts require a longer time for development. It is an engine product for which physical prototypes are developed, and sent to engine suppliers who take their own time to test them. The process takes close to 18 months. Apart from crankshaft, we are looking at tracking systems for commercial vehicles. Discussions are on with Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland. These companies have expressed interest, and we are working on the future course of action. Our course of action will be determined by volumes. If volumes are small, then the tracking systems will be serviced by our technology partner Scorpion, UK. Conversely, for significant volumes we will invest, since they do not have the capacity to manufacture here. Once we understand the volumes, we will be able to decide whether we should invest in them, and expand the horizon of the CV market.

Any other developments that you would want to share with us?

We are supplying lights to Eicher for their Pro Series. These are different from those that are found on passenger vehicles or two-wheelers. To be precise, we are well entrenched in the field of passenger vehicle and two-wheeler lighting. When it comes to CV lighting, we have not yet finalised our manufacturing strategy. I think, it is the client’s interest that has forced us to perform. CV lighting is an area of growth. We have the necessary technology. We were reluctant because we have been doing very well in passenger vehicles and two-wheelers. We see a market need. Since we already supply plastics and lights to Eicher, we are also on the verge of signing an agreement with Mekra Lang, a Germany-based company that specialises in mirrors and camera systems for commercial vehicles. Since mirrors are the kind of products we can identify with, we hope the tie-up to be in place soon. The idea is to provide Mekra Lang a manufacturing base in India. The products will be developed in India, in association with the German engineers. Mekra Lang is a supplier to commercial vehicle manufacturers like Volvo, Scania, DAF, MAN, etc. With international CV players finding their way in India, we think of it as a good opportunity. We will get access to CV manufacturers, and Mekra Lang will be able to tap the local customer base where volumes are larger. A new line will be developed at our Pune plant. Once we understand the nature of demand, we will plan the capacity. You could see products rolling out in a year’s time.

Could you tell us about the technologies you have developed?

Some of the products that we make are for powertrain and transmission. These are the ones that highlight our prowess. They have a long validation time and involve huge risks. Light weighting them is something that all our customers look at. Yet no Indian company has approached us for a hollow camshaft, or a hollow connecting rod. It is not possible to develop a hollow component on our own because it has to work in tandem with other components and systems. Often designed to handle heavier components, it needs a re-balance in the system, which requires extensive system engineering. Indian OEs are not equipped for such things whereas foreign OEs can do it. At our technology plants we have already started discussing the development of some hollow products. In the next few months, we will be meeting some of our customers since such an endeavour points at an opportunity. Once they check the product and feel that it is suitable, we will move ahead.

How important it is to work with an OEM from an early stage?

Working with an OEM is not new. It is however confined to certain products. Earlier engine makers did not have suppliers capable of designing a product which was primarily ‘built-to-print’. Now, 90 per cent of the products are. We have thus moved from that stage to being proprietary. The Indian market, when it comes to powertrain components, is not yet at the built-to-print level. Some of the products that are technology intensive – engine management systems for example, are already being co-developed. Such an approach is needed for other components too. It is not that you design a part and the design of other part comes later. If they both come together, the system costs will go down. As a built-to-print manufacturer, we have to wait till the engine valves are designed. We then make the parts. In case of the hollow parts having sodium metal filled in it to conduct heat, we are looking forward to working with OEMs from an early stage. We are already planning to develop such components for lighter vehicles.

Are you 100 per cent built-to-print manufacturer?

Internationally, we are 100 per cent into proprietary design. In India roughly around 23-25 per cent is our own design. Three years back it was lesser than this. In the region of 12 to 15 per cent. Some of the electrical products have been our designs. Going forward, the focus will be on all the segments; we are not segment special, we are product special. For example, why would we pick up engine valves later when compared to an air filter. An engine valve is a more critical component. The effort to validate it is therefore more.

How much business does the CV sector generate for Varroc?

For now, the figure is not too high. We got into crankshafts this year. Their volumes are low. It may be five per cent or less. We however see a considerable increase, in the crankshaft business. It is a high value product.

From where do you see traction coming?

It (traction) not only depends on the OEs but also on the ones that launch premium vehicles. So Daimler and Volvo (both for trucks and buses) are the ones, which will drive value. I am optimistic about infrastructure development. Roads especially. Once roads get better, there will be a huge requirement for higher power engines. Today the light CV makers are low on technology. There will be a need however to develop technologies that ensure better visibility during high speed goods transfer. I am confident that product mix will change towards premium segment. This will drive our growth in the
CV business.

What is your R&D setup like?

We have nine R&D centres with different capabilities where we employ 600 engineers worldwide. Five of these are in India, and one is in the Czech Republic. It is the largest. Over 2.5 per cent of our revenues are spent on R&D as a group.

Are you planning to put up another division for telematics?

This will be listed under our electrical division. The division already manufactures electrical and electronic products. The production will take place at our Chakan plant. We are in the course of planning out the investments for now.

What will be your target market?

Both the OEMs and the aftermarket will be our targets. We have already initiated discussions with OEs, and the intent is to reach the aftermarket after them. The products will go ‘built’ into the vehicle. In the aftermarket it will be spares if required. Right now the discussion are on as an OE product only.

Pollution is becoming a big issue, and hybrid and electric air-conditioners can address it.

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Article by: CV Magazine

B S Arora, General Manager Business Development, Songz

Pollution is becoming a big issue, and hybrid and electric air-conditioners can address it.

What is your take on economic growth, the CV sector growth and issue like the implementation of Bus Code?

Everybody is hoping that 2015 would be a very good year. Lets see how it goes since as of now I think we are yet to have a definitive answer. The bus code implementation will be good. It will keep unorganised bus body builders in check. New players and global entities will come in. With these unorganised body builders gone, issues like better designing, safety and comfort will be taken care of. Commuters will be more aggressive and price will also become a major issue
going forward.

Under JnNURM 2, most OEMs will be supplying buses to various STUs. How do see it in terms of growth?

Everybody enjoys aftermarket business better than the OEM business. Working with aftermarket players is better than working with STUs. There’s money to be had in the aftermarket; there’s also volume and less problems.

Songz is focusing on the aftermarket more than OEMs – it is easier to get into, but, don’t you think payments are tough?

We have to deal with typical fabricators. The North Indian market is ruthless when compared to South and East. We have ground to cover and the competition is fierce.

What is the company’s current product mix?

We have not started on our product mix yet. We are building a support network in India. We will step into the market by the middle of 2015. In case of dealers or application engineers, we have seen companies trying their best to work with dealers. We don’t want to go through it. By the end of 2015, everything hopefully will fall in place for us.

Would you have found a place in the OE market by then?

We are trying to get into the OE business, but for now we don’t have a formidable business to speak of. We have not been aggressive on the OE front as of now, but, have been expanding in both the directions of the market in India. We are also in the process of developing an after sales support network. When we start a manufacturing facility in India, it will involve the transfer of technology. Technology transfer to India for manufacturing will lead to cost savings. Production costs in China are going up.

Songz is a big player in China?

In China we are the biggest manufacturer of bus air conditioners. We have every type of air-conditioner there, and India will be gradually taking that route. A route, which will include hybrid and electric air-cons. Pollution is becoming a big issue, and the hybrid and electric air-conditioners can address it. We have already offered our hybrid and electric air-conditioners to two OEs. The concept of such air-conditioners is very new in this country, primarily for buses. Whether it is a truck or bus, much depends on the service network and the support system.

Are you looking at a manufacturing facility in India? With an R&D or application centre to support it, which will allow you to tap other segments?

We are looking at making conventional air-conditioners in India. Special air-conditioners will come from China. They require a lot of expertise. Only the conventional ones will be manufactured here. Also, for mining industry and some construction equipment too. For them, duty cycles and hours are very demanding. They seek a little comfort. It will take us about two years to start a facility. Till then we will be developing the support system.

Will mining and construction equipment be a small part?

Yes, it will be a small part of our business since they don’t have decent margins and volumes to operate. It is very unlike the bus air-conditioning segment.

Tell us about electric and hybrid air-conditioners. How will the Indian market find it useful?

Cost is an important factor in India. Our air-conditioner is a hybrid model, whose cooling capacity can be increased or decreased depending upon
the environment and
customer needs.

So the compressor does not work off the engine, and works on its own?

It has its own electric power generation system and does not take power from the battery or the bus alternator. The Supreme court has asked OEs to comply with Euro 5 and Euro 6 emission norms. This may control pollution but will lead to increased costs. Electric air-conditioning systems can address pollution concerns.

As a Chinese company, do you face any disadvantage? People think they come cheap and are of an inferior quality.

That was the case two-to-three years ago, however it is not so anymore. The customer today wants quality for the price he pays. Price is a challenge. There are some local manufacturing companies who drastically drop their prices, and that is the only challenge that we are facing right now. A manufacturing facility will certainly help in addressing this problem. The government has not been able to do things to make the Rupee stronger. Infrastructural reforms would make things better for the CV sector. Still, the Dollar price is too high. It amounts to a big disadvantage for us as we are still importing air conditioners. Custom duty is calculated on the invoice value. It has a triple effect due to freight charges, and leads to 15-20 per cent higher costs than that of
the competition.

Have you started any efforts to localise the ACs.

There are only two or three compressor manufacturers in the world for automobiles. We are the largest manufacturers of bus air conditioners in the world. We have ten manufacturing plants in China. We manufacture passenger car air conditioners to deliver just-in-time to manufacturers. We do 40,000 units per annum for buses. All the compressor manufacturers have given us a special price. We supply one-lakh units for passenger cars. In phase 1, we will be focusing on CV and then moving forward. We will thus get to the car segment in
phase 2.

Do you also cater to the refrigerated trucks and special application vehicles. What is the difference in terms of requirements?

Truck refrigeration is a growing market. 40 to 45 per cent of food produce is wasted in India for the want of proper infrastructure and logistics. India is the largest country to export meat products. Exports of meat products can increase by 30 per cent if proper infrastructure is provided. Over the next four years, refer trucks should double. Presently, only 3,000 units per annum are sold in India. Other markets are
far bigger.

Given your reach, which other market segments will you look at?

We have identified the products we should offer, for the commercial vehicles as well as the passenger vehicles segment. We look forward to supplying air conditioners to Maruti Suzuki since we already supplying
to Suzuki.

Bus air-conditioners are a different ball game altogether?

There have been companies who have limited their exposure to OEs. With the OE business having gone down, their business has gone down too. The bus air-conditioning market has reached a stage where there is a need to highlight technological prowess. It also needs to be considered that bus air conditioners are subject to road conditions, trained technicians, and operating conditions apart from the parking conditions. The bus, whether it is running or standing still, has to bear the effect of direct sun light, which has an impact on the components of air conditioners.

What feedback do you send to China so that the products supplied here meet
the challenges?

Based on the feedback we give, the components of the air conditioners are made as per Indian requirements. For example, the air-con hose pipes are such that they meet the Indian requirements.

Bus manufactures are experimenting with different platforms. Safety and comfort plays a greater role now, along with AMTs for better 

fuel efficiency. How do you see these technologies making a difference as an air-conditioner manufacturer?

AMT is good for petrol cars, whereas it is not good for diesel cars. Failure of clutch due to a sudden increase in the RPM of an engine led to the failure of compressor clutch. The clutch supplier was called. Compressor was redesigned such that it was able to work under ‘off-load’ conditions.

Telematics is gathering pace in India. Does it connect with air conditioners?

Data loggers can be used to analyse how air-conditioners perform over a journey. Sometimes drivers tend to switch off air-conditioners to save diesel. Pharma companies use data loggers in refer trucks to ensure that their shipments are in good shape. Temperature is a very important factor for them and they insist on putting a data logger inside the refrigeration truck based on which they accept the shipment. We expect data loggers to find use in the transportation of other perishable goods, including perishable food.

Haydar Yenigun, Geral Manager Ford Otosan

CV is an associate member of the International Truck of the Year (IToY). Being a part of this association gets the magazine exclusive articles, specially written by IToY jury members.

Haydar Yenigün, General Manager, Ford Otosan

Our strategy is, and always will be, to offer our customers products with advanced technology, high quality, modern design, durability and comfort with a rationale price positioning.

Could you tell us about the global Cargo Project of 2010?

Development of the new tractor, the Ford Cargo 1846T, started in 2009. It was launched in 2013, and is available in South American markets through Ford Motor Company, Brasil. Ford Cargo is also available in the Turkish Market, as well as export countries assigned through Ford Otosan. Introduction of this product led to an entrance in the extra heavy segment in South America. It also led to rationale tractor segment entrance in the Turkish market.

Also, having launched global 1846T model, high sales numbers were reached in 2013 and 2014. As per market indicators, the new global model is well accepted and recognized by the target customers in terms of attributes like performance, cost of ownership and comfort.

Meanwhile, some of the minor improvements identified as per the market demands, the most requested items were developed. Field surveys show that perceived quality and brand recognition of the vehicle have significantly increased during the last two years. In addition to these actions, 1846T Low Liner (940mm 5th wheel height) model, derived from the base 1846T, was also launched in 2014. This new model is able to carry mega trailers which require lower 5th wheel height. This low deck version is in great demand from logistics companies which work on international transportation as volumer.

How many units of 1846T have you sold so far around the world?

Globally, the total sales volume is approximately 5,000 units.

What feedback did you get from your major markets? Is it the ‘right’ global truck you expected?

This vehicle is the ‘right’ vehicle to compete with other OEMs in the growing tractor segment. To analyse customer satisfaction and demands, an ‘Anthropological Field Study’ was conducted in 2014 by an independent company, executed by academicians including sociologists and antropologists. The results so far show that we are moving in the right direction.

In Moscow, in 2013, you said you had an Euro VI engine for the New Cargo. Is it ready for production?

New Ecotorq Engine Family is being developed from scratch by the Ford Otosan engineering team in-house and will be ready by the beginning of 2016. Currently, it is in the development phase.

The New Ecotorq Engine Family will be available with Euro6, Euro5 and Euro3 emission levels. New engines; 9L (modified) and 13L (all-new) will have a wide range of power outputs.

This engine family includes harmonised high tech hardwares and intelligent algorithms – calibration of which will take Ford Trucks to the highest rankings in terms of Cost of Ownership.

What about Ford Trucks sale and service network?

In local market, re-establishment of Ford Trucks 4S dealer network is in progress. By end of 2015, we will have 30 Ford Trucks dealer points in Turkey, all having newly designed facilities in line with Ford Trucks corporate identity and standards. Till date, 24 of them have became fully operational. In the export market, we have a vision to enter 59 countries, including Russia, the Middle East, Gulf countries, United Arab Emirates, North Africa, Sub Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Europe. Currently, our dealer and distributor network is spread over 20 different countries. Our mid-term plan is to create a robust distributorship and extend dealer network for the remaining countries in the export markets.

What about your sale strategies for the future? Do you plan to sell your products in Western Europe too?

Our strategic vision is to be a player in the 59 assigned markets actively. According to our export growth strategic plan, the first step is to be in Central and Eastern Europe.

Recently, you launched Ford Trucks products in UAE and announced that you plan to expand your sales in Gulf Countries. Are those countries the new ‘battleground’ for truck manufacturers?

These markets are very attractive and promising in terms of growth potential. Most European truck manufacturers and some Chinese brands have also been there since the early phases of the market.

Our forecast is that the Middle East heavy commercial vehicle market will grow bigger in the mid-term due to the growing construction business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, etc.

Another important initiative is the Memorandum of Understanding with Avtotor Holding in Russia. Can you tell us about this initiative?

Most truck manufacturers have facilities to build vehicles in Russia either through a joint venture company or on their own. The reason behind this is that local manufacturing provides tax exemption, which brings a competitive price advantage.Until this year, we used to export our vehicles to Russia. We could not achieve a competitive price positioning in the market against local manufacturers. As a strategic move, we decided to be a local player in the market and started cooperating with Avtotor Holding, an appropriate and experienced partner in Russia, as our contract manufacturer.

In some cases, Chinese truck manufacturers, thanks to their joint-ventures with Western European truck manufacturers, are focusing on the same markets as Ford Trucks. How do you plan to overcome your Asian competitors?

At Ford Trucks, our strategy is, and always will be, to offer our customers products that have advanced technology, are of high quality, have modern design, durability and comfort with a rationale price positioning.

Kamaz trucks dominate the Dakar Rally 2015

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The 36th edition of the world’s toughest rally-raid was held in South America. Kamaz trucks won in the truck category. They were powered by Liebherr
16.2L engines.

The 36th edition of the world’s toughest rally-raid was held in January 2015 across three South American countries. The 14-day test of skill, determination and vehicle reliability was flagged off from Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina and culminated in the same city after passing through Chile and Bolivia. The total distance was 9,111 km and consisted of 4,580 km of special stages. Trucks had to cover 8,159 km, with the special stages aggregating 3,760 km. Divided into 13 stages, and for the first time in the history of Dakar, the rest days for cars and trucks were separate from others. The addition of marathon stages was a special feature of the 2015 edition. Out of the 63 trucks, 43 finished. The Kamaz factory achieved a hat-trick after the truck commanded by Airaat Mardeev, Aydar Belyadev and Dimitriy Svistunov dominated the second half of the rally and won two stages. The second Kamaz was under Eduard Nikolaev, Evgeny Yakovlev and Ruslan Akhmadeev, and won six stages while the team of Andrey Karginov, Andrey Mokeev and Igor Leonov made it to the third spot on the podium with a consistent performance.

 Liebherr engines power Kamaz trucks in Dakar Rally

The four trucks entered by the Kamaz Master truck racing team were powered by an 8-cylinder D9508 A7 diesel engine from Liebherr. To engineer the components to be even more reliable and at the same time, dynamic for special conditions, Liebherr worked closely with Kamaz to further develop the drive system for the Dakar Rally 2015. In the race configuration, changes were made above all, to the charge air system to achieve higher charging pressures. The consequence was optimal combustion of the injected fuel quantities whose volume has likewise been increased. Remarkably, no modifications were made to the supporting structures of the engine, such as the crankcase and engine mounting. These have already been engineered sufficiently in the standard version. Even the lubrication system was adopted completely without change since the Liebherr V8 engine is generally designed to work up to 45 degree Celsius. The engines are built at Liebherr Machines Bulle SA in Switzerland, and are distinguished by a maximum output of 1,047 hp and 4,500 Nm torque. Displacing 16.2-litres, and confirming to the rally regulations, which from 2016 limit displacement to 16.5-litres, the engines aid to accelerate from 0 to 100kmph in 10 seconds. This, despite a dry weight of about 1,400 kg in the racing version. The 8,900 kg Kamaz rally trucks reach a top racing speed of 140 kmph.

In January 2014, the Liebherr Group and Kamaz OJSC signed a contract to develop and manufacture a range of 6-cylinder diesel engines with 12-litre displacement. The engines would be tailored by Liebherr to meet specific requirements from Kamaz. The contract also included a complete solution for the construction of an engine production and assembly line as well as respective quality assurance within Kamaz’s production. The main factors for Kamaz’s decision to work with Liebherr as a development partner were, on one hand, the modern engine concept with a good power to weight ratio and, on the other, the impressive strategy to comply with the emissions directives of Euro 5 and Euro 6. Liebherr has more than 30 years of experience in the development and production of diesel engines for heavy applications and tough climatic operating conditions. The engines are part of a comprehensive programme that entails development, design and manufacture within Liebherr’s components division. Among these are high performing components in the areas of mechanical, hydraulic, and electric drive and control technology for diesel and gas engines; injection systems, axial piston machines, hydraulic pumps and motors, hydraulic cylinders, oversized bearings, gearboxes and winches, electric machines, switchgear as well as electric and electronic components and systems. Diverse areas of application include cranes, construction machinery, mining equipment, marine equipment, wind turbines, decentralised energy systems, vehicle and agricultural technology, and aerospace and traffic engineering. 

Airless tyres for commercial vehicles

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An airless tyre developed by Michelin could push pneumatic tyres down the road to extinction. Not as early as many would think, the journey of pneumatic tyres will also depend on how successful products like the ‘tweel’ are. An airless tyre developed by Michelin, ‘tweel’, according to Pete Selleck, president of Michelin North America, is an airless tyre and wheel combination. Michelin recently commissioned a plant to produce airless tyres in South Carolina, USA. First plant in the history of tyre making, that is dedicated to the production of airless radial tyres according to Selleck, the ‘tweel’ will be marketed as a replacement for conventional tyres on lawn movers and off-road industrial vehicles. Aimed at commercial vehicles thus, and those that are more prone to punctures than automobile tyres, ‘tweel’ was born out of the an idea first conceived by Michelin research engineers in the USA.

Changing the configuration of a conventional tyre, bringing together the tyre and the wheel assembly into one solid unit, the ‘tweel’ comprises of a rigid hub connected to a shear beam by means of flexible, deformable polyurethane spokes, all functioning as a single unit. It has no air, thereby solving what had seemed to be the unavoidable challenge of chronic flat tyres that plagues the landscape, construction, contracting, refuse and recycling and agricultural industries. Highlighting Michelin’s long-standing commitment to breakthrough innovation according to Selleck, the ‘tweel’ was born at Michelin Americas Research Company in Greenville, South Carolina, which is one of Michelin’s three global technology centers, as a concept. The same site was also chosen for its manufacture in order to satisfy a growing commercial market. The new plant at the site gives Michelin the ability to boost output of its award-winning Michelin X Tweel SSL skid-steer tyres and begin production of the new Michelin X Tweel Turf as original equipment for John Deere to equip its Ztrak 900 Series line-up of zero-turn commercial mowers.

Originally introduced as a concept at the 2005 North American International Auto Show, the X Tweel makes Michelin’s highly advanced airless radial tyre and is claimed to be the only commercial product available to offer the advantages of no maintenance, no compromise and no downtime. With the capability to perform with traditional radial tyre technology, which requires no air, thereby eliminating the risk of a ‘flat’, the ‘tweel’, said Ralph Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies, “Enables Michelin to enter new markets and expand its reach in existing business segments within the low-speed application category. The industry is hungry for solutions contributing to productivity, safety and bottom lines. Serving our customers is at the center of our strategy for success.”

The new C and K from Renault

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Renault Trucks has introduced an entirely new selection of vehicles: the C and K range to the Middle East.

Renault has launched a new range of trucks called the C and K. They offer new standards in robustness and productivity. Each model can be adapted to suit the wide range of applications and customer demands within the distribution and construction segments.

The C range is ideal for both long-haul and certain construction applications. Available in two cab widths: 2.3 and 2.5 m, the former is best suited for distribution and deliveries, while the latter works well for long haul, light construction and heavy distribution. An optional steel bumper, improve resilience and approach angle, allowing the C range to be used for earth-moving applications as well.

The K range, in fact, offers the best approach angle in the market at (32°), making it ideal for heavy construction and distribution. The front bumper is 100 per cent steel with headlamp protection. The K range has been tested under gruelling conditions like log transport in Cameroon, carrying 100 to 120 tonnes of aggregate in Oman, and in mines in Turkey.

D-Range and Kerax All-Wheel-Drive (AWD). Renault has also refreshed its D Range. It is aiming the iconic Kerax model for extremely demanding applications. The new D range thus consists of a single range and two vehicles. The D cab 2.1m (from 13 to 18 tonnes) used mainly for distribution, delivery and waste management, could be had with a factory fitted crew cab (4 doors and 6 seats), and is available in AWD. The AWD makes it ideal for fire fighting applications. The D WIDE (from 18 to 26 tonnes) is ideal for medium distribution and delivery applications. The company plans to introduce the K-Range with AWD as standard. Field tests are being undertaken for the said purpose.


The new C and K range have been subjected to stringent quality controls: test track trials, test benches and fording tests. Tests have been carried out under temperatures ranging from -40°C to +60°C. Both the C range and K range use the proven Renault Trucks chassis, available with a range of reinforcements.
The K range, offers better ground clearance and approach angle, which allows it to clear significant obstacles and deliver outstanding pulling power. High precision steering and tight turning radius, makes the range easy to manoeuvre. The Optidriver gearbox is available on both C and K ranges for demanding applications and on the AWD K models.

On its exterior, the K range features an all-steel, three-part bumper, fitted to a 32 tonne capacity front towing bar, protective grids for the headlight, optics in polycarbonate, as well as steel protection for all exposed parts.

Vehicles in the C range are fitted with steel corners and protective grids for the headlights. Capable of taking the heaviest punishment and with a higher approach angle, the C 2.5 m off-road cab can be fitted with all-steel bumpers from the K range.
Renault Trucks has developed a new diagnosis tool for preventive maintenance. The company has also developed a new concept called XTrem Camp for customer on-site maintenance. Diesel anti-theft devices, mechanical anti-intruder device door lock, or light bar with rotating beacons offer better safety. The design of the cab and each part of the powertrain helps save fuel. For example, the cab has a windscreen set at an angle of 12° and a trapezoid form, narrower at the front than at the rear, which improves its air penetration coefficient (cx) by up to 12 per cent. Optifuel Solutions, driver training, fuel consumption monitoring, will help deliver optimal fuel efficiency.

The Renault Trucks C range offers an outstanding payload, which can be as much as 31 tonnes for an 8×4. The K range offers a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of up to 50-tonnes and a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCW) of up to 120-tonnes with both manual and automated gearboxes. The vehicles also have several pre-equipment options which simplifies body mounting operations, reducing vehicle delivery time by up to 20 per cent. The vehicles can be fitted with Optifleet, the Renault Trucks fleet management solution.

Strong on productivity

Both the C and K range come with options for reducing vehicle weight, optimised gearboxes and drive axles. By reducing kerb weight and increasing GCW, larger volumes can be transported with each trip, increasing a vehicle’s profitability. The cabs in the C and K range are spacious, with an engine tunnel reduced to 200 mm. The wraparound dashboard centralises all controls. A 7 inch high definition navigation screen displays vehicle status information. The ergonomic steering wheel, other than a 200 mm range of seat adjustment, allows for a flexible driving position.

An additional step on the side of the vehicle allows drivers to check their load easily. Both ranges have a storage which can be accessed from both inside and outside the cab. The Renault Trucks C 2.5 m cab and the K range are fitted with extendable bunks. As an option, the vehicles are also available with an upper bunk.

The C range and K range are available with extensive options and an array of configurations for a variety of applications such as fuel and water transport, transporting building materials, refuse collection, concrete transport and machinery transport and earth moving.


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