Story & photos by : Bhushan Mhapralkar
The engineering prowess of Mahindra Truxo 37 lies in its ability to support unorthodox trucking.
Let’s face it: Unorthodox means unconventional. Unorthodox also means unusual. It does not long to recognise the unusual, nay unorthodox, looks of the Mahindra Truxo. It is them that makes the Truxo 37 stand out of the crowd. Even as the truck fades out of sight it takes an amount of time to lose the memory of how the Truxo really looks. The large imposing grille finished in a shade of matt black is the culprit perhaps. It makes an impression. The extension of matt black look to the bumper makes for a ‘mono’ grille look, which is in no way less distinctive. It grabs attention, period. It also presents imposing looks to the truck.
The twin beam head lamps set into the bumper hint at a modern construction. Also, does the big, glued windshield with a black surround. The fact that the windshield is glued also speaks about a modern manufacturing process involved in the making of this truck. If the lack of sharp edges stop the Truxo’s cabin from looking absolutely boxy, a closer evaluation will reveal that this truck flaunts good fit, finish standards. According to Shyam Ozarkar, General Manager – M&HCV, Mahindra Vehicle Manufacturers, “Quality gates built at every stage of the manufacturing process ensure a quality build and superior fit, finish.” It is over an ‘U’-shaped assembly line at Chakan, Pune, that the Truxo 37 is manufactured. To watch a Truxo 37 take shape is quite interesting to say the least.
Work begins with the bolting of the long and short cross members. To facilitate easier assembly the chassis is kept inverted. The necessary components and aggregates are fed across the line at regular intervals. The supply is well regulated as it is not just the Truxo that is made here. It does not take long to notice that the work force is young and energetic. They are the outcome of an extensive training imparted by an in-house ‘school’ called Gurukul. Recruits are subjected to work benches that simulate the working conditions on the line at various stages. They are also trained to work on a moving line to be able to adhere to the takt time. “Extensive class room and dexterity training is imparted,” explains Ozarkar. As the chassis rolls down the line, various brackets are bolted to it; suspension and other aggregates are attached. With the help of a band hoist, the chassis is turned around at one point in the process. This facilitates the fitting of the drivetrain, which is sourced from an assembly operation a few feet away from the final assembly shop. Apart from trucks, the youngest and biggest Mahindra plant (3.5 times of the size of the Kandivali and Nashik plant combined), and spread over 2.8 million sq. m., manufactures a variety of products including the Maxximo mini-truck. The new TUV300 compact SUV is also made here, though in a different shop. The diverse range of products made here highlight a sharing of common utilities like the press shop, body shop and the paint shop.
Progressing to the fitting of electricals and electronics (engine harness, etc.), braking system and various other bits including the wheels (the spare wheel is also attached at this stage), it is after the U-turn that the fully-built cabin is lowered on to the chassis and carefully attached. Since the cabin is fully suspended, it calls for careful anchoring of the four-way damper elements. A sub-assembly line in the vicinity assembles cabins as they are received from the paint shop. Of the two paint shops, the one that caters to the truck cabin is bigger according to Ozarkar. It can execute 12 jobs per hour. The cabin, starting its journey ath the press shop and the body shop, has its skin pannels handled carefully to ensure optimum fit, finish standards. A ‘Ro-dip’ CED process protects against corrosion over longer periods. Engineered to execute nine jobs per hour, the final assembly has fluid filling stations and testing stations at the end. The last two stations conduct wheel alignment and shower test.
A walk around the Truxo 37 reveals that it is well built. Hinting at a modern composition, this truck’s market positioning is
mid-premium. Aiming at those who are looking for higher payload solutions, on either side of the cabin, and closer to the rear are cubicles. They can store the jack and other tools used to change the wheel. They can also store the driver’s belongings as well. A latch inside, and near the door provides access. Climb inside, and a modern interior reveals itself.
The large sweeping dashboard looks modern. The surface texture may not be as plush, it is not deviating from a modern approach either. Modern and inspiring the dash looks. An eye sore are the blanks where the HVAC system should have been. The glovebox can hold a fair deal of stuff. For more, there are cubicles at the top. Look up, and apart from the storage rack, two ceiling fans come into view. According to GVS Prasad, DGM – Product Planning, Truck & Bus Division, a survey carried out, indicated that the drivers liked a fan over a blower assembly. HVAC with air-con is available as an option. The moulded roof and a sleeper bunk behind the seats contribute towards the modern construction of the truck. They also hint at the attention paid to comfort and ergonomics. The driver’s seat is suspended, and the steering is adjustable. The instrument console is made up of two large dials, two smaller dials (one of which indicates the air pressure), a bank of warning lamps and a LCD readout.
On the move
Crank the 170 hp, 7.2-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and not much vibration or noise filters into the cabin. Prasad points out, “The cabin floor has been effectively insulated.” Shift into first, turn off the parking brake, and move out of the bay. The shift quality of the 6-speed manual gearbox may not be in the same league as that of a car, it is way ahead of the transmissions found on some of the older generation trucks. Clutch action is light and the driving position is commanding. Moving out of the narrow bay does not pose any difficulty. The power assisted steering helps manoeuvre. States Prasad, “When the Truxo 37 was engineered over the Truxo 31, we concentrated upon the ability to carry more load. The bay at the Reliance plant at Hazira for example, is ‘tight’, and drivers find the Truxo easy to manoeuvre over some of the other 37-tonne trucks”. The front two steerable axles help as well. What is also proving to be of advantage is the powerful nature of this truck. In a category where the engines range between 5 and 6-litres, this is perhaps the only truck that offers a 7.2-litre engine.” It does not take long to notice that the Truxo 37 is a powerful truck; has a better pulling ability. The truck accelerates well even in higher gears. If the mirrors provide a good view of the surrounding, the large windshield offers a good view of what is at the front.
Even when accelerating there’s no vibration or noise that intrudes; clearly not at a level where conversing with Prasad who is accompanying me is an issue. Not only are we able to converse easily, a sense of ease prevails. Enough to provide an idea of how drivers will appreciate the level of comfort and convenience on offer. If these indicate the trappings of a modern truck, the equation of power and performance add to it. What adds as well, is the equation of fuel efficiency. Claims Prasad, “In the tests that we carried out, it was found that the Truxo 37 is 8 to 10 per cent fuel efficient than the competitors,” Ozarkar reasons, “Fuel efficiency ranks at the top of the requirement list of the buyers in this segment, followed by issues like tyre wear and higher uptime.” The rear tag axle presents the opportunity to achieve better fuel efficiency when carrying less load. A hardy machine the Truxo 37 is. There is no doubt that it is engineered to satisfy the many growing needs of the operator. The Navistar joint venture may be history, the trappings of a world-class truck are not lost. While it is surprising to note that some of the manufacturing culture from the (defunct) Renault joint venture has also found its way into the manufacturing culture at Chakan, and is ensuring significant quality and process improvements, the Truxo 37, there is no doubt, is well-built and capable. As the trucking culture decouples itself from the tendency to overload, and move up to accommodate modern trucks with world-class technology, the Truxo 37’s ability to carry more, legally, frugally and quickly, is put into perspective by Atin Moulick, Senior Manager – Marketing, Truck & Bus Division. He remarks that over 350 Truxo 37s have been sold till date.