Story: Hayley Leibowitz & Wayne Munro - Photos: Gerald Shacklock - Video: Trevor & Hayden Woolston
In marketing-speak it’s a “muddy it up and wash it out, no-nonsense range of trucks, built with one purpose – getting the job done.”
The sales pitch for the new FUSO Enduro range of trucks calls them workhorses – with “value that’s hard to beat”….emphasising their “state-of-the-art Daimler build quality, proven heritage and a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.”
So here it is….straight: The Enduro is a range of FUSO trucks built in India – constructed at a world-class Daimler Trucks plant and using a proven Mercedes-Benz engine and transmission….
But going without “all the latest bells and whistles” of their Japanese equivalents, and taking advantage of India’s lower overheads and labour costs – that combination meaning that they’re also cheaper than the FUSO Canter and Fighter ranges that they borrow from.
Or, as Fuso New Zealand managing director Kurtis Andrews prefers to term it, they’re “more cost-effective….less-expensive.” They are, he says, “value-for-money, working-man’s trucks.” Trucks that are “still built to Daimler’s global standards,” but are “just not the latest and greatest.”
So is there really a market here for this Enduro? Isn’t this risking undermining/competing with FUSO’s already-established Kiwi market presence? And just when newcomer Fuso NZ is driving sales back up after years when the make had slumped badly from its onetime Number One status?
Well, unsurprisingly, Fuso NZ hasn’t rushed into this lightly. Firstly, the Enduro isn’t a direct competitor to a Canter, a Fighter, or an HD, but is another kind of beast altogether.
A sub-range, you could say – with some features that simply aren’t available in Japanese-built FUSOs. Like its 210kW/285 horsepower 6.4-litre OM906 six-cylinder engine having 30-40% more torque (1120Nm/826 lb ft) than its closest Japanese equivalent. And full crosslocks on the diffs of its 6x4 and 8x4 models.
Fuso NZ spent much of last year testing 25 Enduro vehicles here and seeking customer feedback on them, before finalising the exact spec.
As Andrews summed up when announcing the planned launch of the range: “We’ve spent a lot of money on research and one of the common things that came from customers is that they just wanted a basic truck.”
So how is all of this working out? While they’re not yet a common sight on NZ roads, the 25 pre-production test trucks and 85 production models have been sold in the eight months following the Enduro’s February launch.
This is more of a Medium Test rather than a Big Test: John Fillmore Contracting’s FUSO Enduro FO3128 8x4 is the largest of the Enduro range – but with only 285hp it’s certainly not anywhere near the power nor the GVM rating of the trucks we usually road test.
To put it into context, I was driving a 285hp Mack back in the late 1970s/early ‘80s – and in those days, that was a big truck. In truth it was a bit different, in that it had an 11-litre engine that developed 1464Nm of torque at 1000rpm – whereas the Enduro’s engine is a 6.4-litre, developing 1120Nm at 1200-1600rpm.
Powering the Enduro is the Mercedes-Benz OM906 six-cylinder Euro 5 engine, hooked up to a Merc G131 synchromesh nine-speed gearbox. It’s actually an eight-speed box with a deep reduction gear and has the double-H shift pattern also found in the ZF boxes we’ve seen in several European trucks over the years – most recently in the manual version of the Iveco Trakker.
With its modest horsepower and its 31,000kg GVM rating, the truck is targeted at exactly the kind of application we see it in with JFC – around-town, truck-only tipper work. And, appropriately, it’s fitted with a Cambridge Welding Hardox body and Edbro hoist.
I start the Trevor Test out of Winstone’s Hunua Quarry with a load of TNZ/40 that gives us an all-up weight of around 25 tonnes and a payload of 13.2 tonnes. It’s destined for Huapai, northwest of Auckland.
The climb up into the cab is a bit of a problem, with an extremely high bottom step that driver Paul and I find less than comfortable. There is a real need here for a lower step – flexibly-mounted, like those seen on many construction trucks, to avoid damage if they get hooked-up.
The problem is that in this sort of metro tipper work, the drivers are in and out of the cab many times a day, so cab access is a major issue, particularly with an ageing workforce.
Once you get up onto the lower step, there are two very good grabhandles each side of the door opening and the steps themselves are large enough for a good foothold.
Inside the cab it’s a very utilitarian finish….which is exactly what you want in this application. There’s a clean, flat finish to all the dash panels and the floors are covered with plastic coverings and rubber mats – easy to keep clean in dusty or muddy conditions.
It’s not a bad working environment at all, with all controls in easy reach. Well, except for the passenger window control, which is located a stretch away – on the far left of the central dash panel.
Immediately in front of the driver is a tidy instrument cluster with speedo, tachometer, air pressure gauges and a fuel gauge which includes an AdBlue level indicator.
Allied Publications Ltd
172B Marua Rd, Ellerslie, Auckland 1051
PO Box 112 062, Penrose, Auckland 1642
Phone: +64 9 571 3544.
Fax: +64 9 571 3549
2016 Allied Publications Ltd. All rights reserved.