Back in Transit

ImageHistory, they say, has a habit of repeating itself. Sometimes, mainly for those who failed to realise their errors and correct them, it comes as slap in face. For others it is a welcome return to something known, loved and appreciated – this applicable to the return of the Transit name to the Ford stable locally.

Back in the mid-sixties the Ford Transit van was manufactured at the company’s plant in Port Elizabeth and, at the time, was just about the only panel van available on the local market. Life happened and the Transit name vanished from the scene in South Africa while it continued to develop and grow, particularly in the UK, where it consistently topped the sales charts for years.

 Now reintroduced to the local market, the Transit – and its people-carrier sibling, the Tourneo – represent a completely new generation of Ford one-ton vehicles and an important step in Ford’s commitment to expanding its presence in the commercial vehicle line-up.

With its bold new design, car-like interior and outstanding driving dynamics, the Ford Transit Custom will appeal to a broad range of professionals, skilled tradesmen and small businesses.

“The Transit Custom is a welcome introduction to the South African market,” says Gavin Golightly, marketing manager, Ford South Africa. “This is a stylish, modern van that customers will be proud to have in their driveway. At the same time it’s up for the tasks required by this segment.”

The Transit Custom features a bold exterior design, which embodies the same dynamic character as Ford’s kinetic design passenger cars.

 “Customers want their vehicle to project a modern and professional image, and the new Transit Custom does not disappoint,” adds Golightly. “We have given the vehicle a stylish, modern appearance that will be appreciated by businesses of all sizes.”

 Signature kinetic design features help to give the Transit Custom its unique character, including the bold trapezoidal grille, strong, muscular shoulder line and prominent wheel lips.

The Transit Custom is available in a choice of short wheelbase (4,97 metres) and long wheelbase (5,34 metres) versions, so customers can select the amount of load space that best suits their business.

In addition to offering maximum load volume (6,0 m3 SAE with full bulkhead fitted, 6,.8 m3 SAE with LWB) that exceeds that of its closest competitors, the load area of the Transit Custom has been carefully optimised to offer more space and more convenience than any of its rivals. 

The optimised bulkhead and load space design enables the SWB model to carry three Euro pallets loaded to at least one metre high, while the load-through hatch in bulkhead enables loads up to three metres in length (3,4 m with LWB), such as pipes or ladders, to be safely carried inside the vehicle.

There is a deployable integrated roof rack system that seamlessly integrates into the roof, and can be deployed when required, while repositioned tie-down hooks and fixing points located on the body sides, leave the floor clear for easier loading and cleaning.

To provide customers with a wide range of payload options from 600 kg -1 400 kg, Transit Custom is available with multiple GVM options.

“Designers sought to design the load space that would make everyday functions more convenient – so it’s easier for customers to do their job,” says Golightly.

 The Transit Custom and the Tourneo bring car-like driver appeal to its segment with an interior designed with the driver in mind, advanced technologies and outstanding driving dynamics.

 The modern, driver-focused cockpit features a sculpted instrument panel, which combines stylish looks with smart stowage solutions for bottles, phones and papers. Driver comfort is significantly enhanced through a highly adjustable driving position, which features ample seat travel and a steering column adjustable for reach and rake.

 Once behind the wheel, the driver can call upon a wide range of available driver assistance technologies also featured in Ford’s latest passenger cars.

 These include the Ford SYNC voice-activated, in-car connectivity system, Lane Keeping Alert, Driver Alert, Auto High Beam and Hill Launch Assist.

To achieve a driving experience not unlike that on the passenger car range, engineers developed the new Ford global one-ton platform, which underpins the Transit Custom to make it much stiffer and stronger – increasing torsional stiffness by as much as 37% – benefitting both handling and noise levels.

 The Transit Custom achieved a maximum five-star safety rating from independent vehicle safety organisation Euro NCAP.

To maximise occupant protection, the Transit Custom features an optimised body structure, which features ultra-high-strength Boron steel. In total, 40% of the body is made from high-strength or ultra-high-strength steels, resulting in a strong and light body that is designed to offer high levels of crash protection.

The Transit Custom also features an enhanced restraint system, which now gives customers the option of specifying a passenger air bag for front seat occupants, in addition to the standard fitment driver air bag. On the Tourneo, curtain air bags are standard for the front seat occupants, together with driver and passenger air bags and seat-mounted side thorax air bags.

As on Ford’s latest passenger cars, a non-axial stroking steering column is also fitted, to help reduce loads on the occupant’s head and chest in the event of a high-speed frontal impact.

Both models are fitted with the 2,2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engine and offered in three variations. The 74 kW model offers 310 Nm of torque from just 1 300 r/min, the 92 kW version offers 350 Nm at 1 450 r/min while the high-powered 114 kW version offers 385 Nm at 1 600 r/min.

“The Tourneo Custom offers the kind of style and performance that will have a very broad appeal, particularly to personal use customers looking for a spacious and versatile vehicle,” says Golightly. “It’s a fantastic-looking people mover – inside and out – and offers outstanding day-to-day practicality while still being great to drive.”

Image“Designers set out to create a clean, modern silhouette. With its sporty stance, bold rising shoulder line and flush glazing, the Tourneo Custom brings something fresh and exciting to this class of people mover.”

Signature kinetic design features help to give the Tourneo Custom its character, including the bold trapezoidal grille, strong and muscular shoulder line, prominent wheel lips and window lines with the distinctive kick at the rear.

The eight-seater Tourneo Custom is available in a 2 933 mm short wheelbase version (4,97 metres), and a 3 300 mm long wheelbase (5,34 metres), both of which provide generous space for people and luggage. The additional length of the LWB version translates into extra luggage space behind the third seat row.

At a height of less than 2,0 metres, the Tourneo Custom also comfortably complies with most car park height limits. This advantage is retained when the vehicle is fitted with the deployable integrated roof rack system, which is seamlessly integrated into the roof and can easily be raised or lowered when required.

 Tourneo Custom models offer twin side sliding doors as standard, with running boards below the doors for improved low level step access, as well as a strong visual differentiation. A lift gate is fitted as standard at the rear.

 The seats in the two rear rows can be easily folded into multiple configurations and removed in segments or completely – in total there are 30 seating permutations to suit any occasion. All seating positions provide integral three-point lap and shoulder style seat belts.

Air-conditioning is a standard fitment for front seat occupants while a separate air-conditioning unit for the rear compartment is available as part of an option pack. Also available is Ford’s SYNC voice-activated, in-car connectivity system that enables mobile phones and music players to be connected to the vehicle and operated by voice control.

Customers can select from either Ambiente trim or the higher specced Trend trim based on individual requirements. The Trend models feature, SYNC, electrically operated mirrors, cruise control, 16” alloy wheels and more as standard equipment.

The Transit Custom comes with a 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty. Service intervals are every 15 000km with a Service Plan available as a dealer option. The Tourneo Custom comes with a 5-year/90 000 km Service Plan and 3-year /unlimited km Roadside Assistance.

Reprinted, with permission, from Fleet MagazineImage



Coming of the storm

20130123_201322 Riders 2_edited Riders_edited Piet Botha

There is something, perhaps insanely, magical about the mental images conjured up by the words “Cities on flame with rock and roll/ Three thousand guitars they seem to cry/ My ears will melt, and then my eyes/ Oh, let the girl, let that girl, rock and roll/ Cities on flame now, with rock and roll”.

Even if Blue Oyster Cult was tending for some overkill with the notion of 3 000 guitars, there is just as delicious an image with six rock axemen doing it live.

And they are!

In a country that produces a prodigious amount of talent and all too often an equal amount of under-enthusiasm for artists not named Steve or Kurt, the rock guitar legends are fighting back through ‘Riders from the Storm’, an initiative undertaken by Mel Botes, renowned for his master craftsmanship on the electric guitar, his interpretations of various legendary rock works, his original compositions and his classical repertoire.

Says Botes: “The concept was born out of similar projects undertaken by international rock legends such as Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Locally, we have also had unprecedented success with the band ‘6 Snare’, in which we have combined six of the most popular Afrikaans folk musicians into one group, roughly following the same recipe used by the international supergroup ‘The Travelling Wilburys’.

“Hence, joining six of the most prolific electric guitar players into one rock supergroup was a logical next step to take.”

The band members shared a stage for the first time at their maiden performances in February last year at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria. Most recently they performed at Shelley Point in St Helena Bay as part of the Hyundai SA launch of the Santa Fe – cars and rock ‘n roll, always a good mix.

The band members are: Mel Botes, Piet Botha, Albert Frost, Valiant Swart and Nathan Smith. There will always be an invited sixth ‘mystery’ member who will be selected from guitarists from popular local rock bands, session musicians and solo artists. In fact, for the latest gig, Mauritz Lotz joined and Robin Auld was the guest – Nathan Smith sitting this one out.

Botes is an accomplished player, interpreter and originator of legendary rock works, including his evergreen nationwide top-sellers ‘Crazy Diamond – A tribute to Pink Floyd’; ‘Sultans of Swing – A tribute to Dire Straits’ and his own original, ‘David’s Confession – About Time, Chapter II.

Piet Botha is renowned as one of the pioneers of South African rock and has become a legend in his own time as front man of ‘Jack Hammer’ as well as a host of solo Afrikaans and English rock works. Along with the likes of Valiant Swart, it was Botha who was a ‘voortrekker’ of Afrikaans rock and their groundbreaking work probably paved the way for the likes of Koos Kombuis and Fokof Polisiekar.

It was never easy and in the early days more attention was paid by the media to who Botha was related to than the music and I recall talking to him at an early Jack Hammer gig where he said, emphatically: “I don’t care about that shit; I just want to play music.”

In fact, what they were doing back then was a huge step away from what was considered ‘normal’ for a pair of ‘boereseuns’ and their songs were not cutesy little ditties about boy meets girl but real reflections of life, love, hate, fear and hope in a changing South Africa. And this probably scared the crap out much of the ‘establishment’.

Now, older and sporting a Willie Nelson kind of look as the long tresses ease towards grey, he is doing just that. Playing the music. So too is Valiant Swart.

As a session musician, Mauritz Lotz’s innovative style can be heard on more than 1 000 local album productions and he has shared the stage with various South African artists supporting international artists such as Roberta Flack, The Bee Gees, The Rolling Stones, Ronan Keaton, Eric Clapton, Sting, Midnight Oil, Joan Armatrading and OMD.

It is hardly surprising the rest of the Riders joke about taping two of his fingers together before a gig to even the playing field.

Albert Frost is one of the most accomplished guitarists in South Africa and brings some edgy blues-rock to the collaboration, having cut his teeth with the Blues Broers and in his capacity as a solo artist or with his trio.

Says Botes: “The brief to these musicians was simple – each had to contribute three compositions to the group’s performance in which that particular musician plays the lead guitar to accompaniment from a full rock band.

“They were given a choice between original or standard rock renditions, provided the music fitted within the overall criterion of ground-breaking work. Furthermore, each musician also had to submit material that could be played be the group as a whole, balancing recognisable sounds with new artistic works.

Of course, Riders would be little without proper backing and the engine room of the group comprises Ghapi (aka Phillip Botha) on drums, Simon Orange (Blue Broers) on keyboards and Schalk van der Merwe (Bed on Bricks) on bass.

Unkindly they have been called a ‘cover band’ and, perhaps, in a sense they are. However, it is the interpretation that makes for originality and the mix does include original works from each of the collaborators, such as Valiant Swart’s ephemeral ‘Die Vloek van die Kitaar’, ‘Suitcase vol Winter’ (Piet Botha), ‘All of Woman’ (Robin Auld), ‘Mountains’ (Albert Frost), ‘Torremelinos’ (Mel Botes) and ‘Nemesis’ (Mauritz Lotz).

There’s a spider-shiver that runs from the base of your spine to smack you in the back of the head when the entire ensemble gathers its collective force to belt our “Riders on the Storm (The Doors), Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple), ‘Le Grange’ (ZZ Top) or ‘All Along the Watchtower’ (Bob Dylan/Jimi Hendrix) and you have never heard Beethoven’s 9th Symphony played the way Mel Botes does it.

Other contributions include material from Pink Floyd, Toto, Santana, Johnny Cash, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Gary Moore.

This is a storm of epic proportions and it’s coming for you!

New thinking, really!

SEOUL, Korea– Hyundai is changing. Actually, the change is well under way. Moving from a new automaker bent on building sales in export markets, Hyundai has evolved its thinking to being qualitative rather than quantitative and is no longer chasing a goal of being the biggest car maker in the world – just the best loved.

Enshrined within its current ‘tag line’ of ‘New Thinking. New Possibilities.’ is a broad spectrum of directional shifts not limited only to the cars being produced by the company, but also to the way in which the cars are being manufactured.

As the only motor manufacturer in the world with its own steel plant, the changes – much linked to ensuring environmental concerns are met – are evident in the costly, but effective fully enclosed raw material preparation facilities where the iron ore (10% of which is imported from South Africa) is processed before going to the furnace. Enclosed in massive geodesic domes, the pollution from dust is drastically reduced during the crushing process.

The steel factory also recycles all water, generates its own electricity and has its own sewage plant, converting human waste into industrial use water for the cooling processes as thousands of tons of iron ore is converted into the rolled and sheet steel gobbled up by the manufacturing plants within Korea at Ulsan, Asan and Jeonju.

As a point of reference – the Ulsan plant is the largest single auto plant in the world and produced 1,5-million cars last year.

Total investment in the plant came to $9,48-billion and the new blast furnace due to come on line shortly will increase total steel production from all centres (Dangjin, Pohung and Incheon) to 24-million tons a year.

“We work ceaselessly for customer satisfaction and will open new roads with new initiatives. Hyundai Motor Company will stand at the forefront of the global motor industry,” says Chairman and CEO Chung Mong-Koo.

“New ideas create new values. We will respond to the fast-changing international management environment by constructing a system for organic cooperation between production factory and sales headquarters in each country worldwide, strengthening quality management and expanding research and development in eco-friendly vehicles.”

Hyundai Motor Company was established in 1967 and a year later signed a licensing agreement for the CKD assembly of the Ford Cortina. In 1974 the Turin Motor Show hosted the launch of the Pony, Hyundai’s first proprietary car. In 1986 it entered the US market with the Excel and launched the first generation Grandeur (Azera) in Korea, followed by Sonata two years later.

The company’s first in-house engine was launched in 1991 and the same year it developed the electric Sonata. In 1996 the Asan plant came on stream, the Tiburon was launched and in 1998 it acquired Kia Motors leading to the formation of Hyundai Motor Group in 2000. In 2002 the Irvine, USA, design and technical centre opened followed in 2003 by one in Russelsheim, Germany. In 2008 the Tau engine was launched along with the Genesis, a second plant in India and in 2010 it achieved more than 5% of global market share.

A new plant is under construction in Brazil and, while consideration for a South African facility is not on the cards, it certainly is not off the list of future possibilities. Hyundai in South Africa is distributed by Hyundai South Africa, part of the AMH Group, but Hyundai has distributor agreements in all African countries with a small SKD plant in Egypt.

Hyundai’s growing spread of vehicle offerings from passenger cars through SUV, MPV and commercials (including its own specialist luxury brand, Equus) face tough competition in a world gripped by eco-fever where more for less is paramount, safety and low emissions absolutes.
Hyundai has established R&D centres at various places around the world, but this does not stop the ongoing work at Namyang, which features a 70-kilometre test track, 34 types of road and 71 different road surfaces from undertaking extensive new product development, engine design and safety testing.

The Namyang facility includes a complete production facility where vehicles can be built from scratch, tested and sometimes destroyed in the massive crash test facility where I witnessed a brand new Azera take on a 50 km/h side-impact.

On site is a huge wind tunnel along with rain/snow/heat chambers, acoustic testing and electronic interference testing and laboratories for the development of new in-car systems, infotainment and safety items.

Part of this includes development of hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles – some of which Hyundai has already released into world markets with the infrastructure capable of sustaining them and, should South Africa move towards making recharging facilities available, it would also become a consideration for Hyundai South Africa.

“South Africa is an important market for Hyundai even though it currently accounts for only around 1% of our global sales,” says William Lee, Executive Vice-President of Overseas Sales. “We see the market in South Africa growing and Hyundai wants to be a big part of that.”

For South Africa, managing director Alan Ross is confident Hyundai can increase its footprint during 2012 providing world demand (and Hyundai is expecting to sell more than 4-million units this year) does not limit stock availability to our market.

“There were some stock issues last year and we could certainly have sold more,” he says.

Amarok single cab world launch

When a motor company excitedly shows off its planned print campaign at a vehicle launch, instead of the adjectively impassioned award chasing television commercial, there is the immediate impression it is serious about the product, and we believe Volkswagen is very serious about the Amarok single cab.

South Africa is the first country in the world to make the single cab available commercially and its reception in the coming months will lay guidelines for other countries around the world still to launch the vehicle that is manufactured in the Volkswagen plant in South America.

As the first 1-ton pickup in the VW stable, the Amarok double cab was launched amid huge fanfare around the world, did two Dakar rallies as the official backup and support vehicle, tied in with German rock band The Scorpions (with guitarist Rudolph Schenker a Dakar competitor) and generally did all it could to make its presence known. . . and felt.

One of the most significant holistic elements of the Amarok was a step sideways from the existing ‘norms’ by opting for an engine range that offered similar power and torque to its – mainly Japanese – competitors but with a far lower carbon footprint through reduced CO2 emissions and lower fuel consumption.

In the South African market, Volkswagen has established itself as top dog in the passenger car market, consistently outselling its main rival, Toyota. However, the Japanese automaker still dominates the 1-ton pickup segment by a long way – and this is the largest single cab market in the world, into which Volkswagen is diving headfirst.

Six single cab models, all powered by turbo-diesel engines, are available immediately to be followed by two direct injection petrol engine derivatives in the last quarter of 2011. All models will be available in either Basic or Trendline trim levels with 4 Motion 4-wheel drive available on three of the six diesel variants.

Sales of 1-ton pick-ups in South Africa peaked in 2006 at 108 905 units and were marginally lower in 2007 at 108 586 units. Of these single cab sales accounted for some 58% of the total. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis sales dipped to 66 591 in 2009 before recovering to 76 182 in 2010. During this time of suppressed business activity, the share of single cab models was 53%.

Year to date figures through May 2011 show a rising trend in sales in concert with the vehicle market as a whole as business confidence and activity increases. Indications are for a market in excess of 80 000 1-ton pick-ups for the whole year with single cab representation increasing in the mix.

Since fleet sales account for more than 85% of all new vehicles sales each year, it is here Volkswagen is concentrating its Amarok efforts and hoping the growing trend, especially by companies with overseas principals or links, to environmental awareness will swing the decision their way.

The Amarok Double Cab saw the implementation of fuel-efficient TDI  turbo-charged direct injection engines with the 2.0TDI engine delivering maximum power of 90 kW and peak torque of 340 Nm. The 2.0 BiTDI engine produces 120 kW with peak torque of 400 Nm.

The 2.0TDI models consume just 7,6 l/100 km in the combined cycle and the 2.0 BiTDI just 7,9 l/100 km with CO2 emissions of 199 g/km and 208 g/km respectively.

New to the Amarok for the single cab range is the 2.0TSI petrol engine with maximum power of 118 kW over a broad engine speed range and peak torque of 300 Nm, also over a wide range for flexibility. Fuel consumption for the combined cycle in this instance is 9,5 l/100km.

In all cases, drive is via a 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive top ratio for added cruising economy. An upshift/downshift indicator in the instrument display aids economical driving by displaying optimal gearshift points.

The Amarok Single Cab has load box width of 1 620 mm with a useable width between the wheel arches of 1 222 mm – more than 100 mm up on its nearest competitor. This is the only vehicle in the class that accommodates two Euro pallets in a crosswise configuration ( a Euro pallet measures 1 200 X 800 mm). The Amarok’s load box area is 3,57 m2, an advantage of 10% over the nearest competitor in the class.

Payload capacity is top of the class at between 1 225 kg and 1 354 kg depending on model. This combined with the large load box area improves delivery efficiencies, a key to cost control in commercial operation.

When it comes to towing capacity the Amarok boasts a gross combination mass of 5 500 kg, some 30% more than its nearest rival. This allows for a braked trailer weight of 2 800 kg, almost double that of competitors, on both 4X2 and 4X4 models. This towing performance applies to gradients of up to 12%. Maximum trailer nose weight on the tow hitch is 120 kg.

For the launch Volkswagen chose the beautiful Fish River canyon. En route the launch vehicles were all given a load of between 500 kg and 750 kg to lug up and down the route in and out of the canyon on tracks with gradients around 14 degrees and one wading of the river with the strong flow at wheel height above the causeway. No problem!

A further aid to traction in loose conditions comes in the form of the electronic differential lock system that is standard on all Amarok Single Cab models and inhibits wheel spin on all driven wheels by selective short braking interventions applied to a wheel that has lost traction.

Also standard on all models is Anti Slip Regulation. This driver aid prevents the driven wheels from spinning on slippery surfaces such as snow, mud or loose gravel. It does this by a targeted intervention in the engine management system to reduce engine power and torque as long as the adverse condition is sensed by the management system.

Where the optional ESP system is specified it includes Hydraulic Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control, Trailer stabilisation, Load sensing and roll over protection.

Driver comfort and interior space have not been overlooked. Legroom is substantial, even for the tallest of drivers, as is the space afforded to the upper body area – still leaving enough space behind the seats to take toolboxes and the like.

Included in the safety specification across the range are anti-lock braking, EBD and TCS traction control system. A driver side air bag is provided in the Basic specification with the option to upgrade to a passenger side air bag with de-activation switch. Driver and passenger air bags are included in the Trendline specification. Daytime running lights are a feature across the range.

Volkswagen’s Amarok follows proven 1-ton pick-up convention with the cab and load-box mounted on a sturdy and durable ladder frame chassis with crash impact absorbing structures incorporated into the chassis structure in the cab area for occupant protection in the event of a side impact collision.

In addition to the impact adsorbing structures the ladder frame features five cross members, including the front suspension sub-frame, for a rigid construction.

The rear leaf springs are mounted alongside the ladder frame rather than directly under the frame members. This facilitates a lower load bay floor, a lower loading sill height and a deeper load box with higher sides and tailgate relative to the load box floor. A further spinoff is a lower centre of gravity for the vehicle.

The Amarok front suspension is an independent McPherson strut system with upper and lower transverse links. The anti-roll bar is coupled to the McPherson strut via a coupling rod for improved directional stability.

A solid rear axle is used at the rear with heavy-duty leaf springs with drum brakes at the back. Up front are 16-inch dual piston calliper discs.

Warranty cover is 3-year/100 000 kilometres and service intervals are 15 000 kilometres. Anti-corrosion warranty cover is for six years. A 5-year/90 000 kilometre service plan is included in the price.

The name ‘Amarok’ was developed and researched by branding agency Interbrand on request from Volkswagen. Revealed to the public on June 4, 2009, ‘Amarok’ means ‘Wolf’ in the Inuit language, and Interbrand also claims it is associated with ‘he loves stones’ in Romanic languages. It also resembles ‘tomorrow’ in Irish. It is also the title of a 1990 record album by musician Mike Oldfield, a 2000 album from the German black metal group Nargaroth and the name of an open-source music player (version 1.0 in 2004).

Ford and VW show new bakkies

Volkswagen's Single Cab Amarok

Both Volkswagen and Ford used the NAMPO Harvest Day Show in Bothaville to launch their new entrants to the bakkie market, the choice of the agricultural show a clear indication both are seriously seeking fleet approval.

The launch of the Single Cab completes the Amarok model range following the launch of the Double Cab in September 2010.

South Africa has the largest single cab bakkie market in the world convincing the Volkswagen Group  to make South Africa as the first market globally to launch the Amarok Single Cab.

At launch, the Amarok Single Cab will be available with a chaoice of two common rail diesel engines, the 2,0-litre 90 kW and 2,0-litre 120 kW BiTurbo. The four cylinder 90 kW engine generates 340 Nm of torque between 1 750 r/min and 2 000 r/min whilst the two-stage control bi-turbo charging 120 kW engine has maximum of torque of 400 Nm available at a low 1 500 r/min. Both engines are mated to a 6-speed manual transmission.

Similar to the Double Cab,the Single Cab is available with an option of selectable 4Motion all wheel drive as well as 4×2 rear wheel drive.

The Amarok Single Cab’s ladder frame chassis is supported by heavy duty springs that allow it to carry a payload up to 1 279 kg.

Standard active safety features include an anti-lock braking system with Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Off-Road ABS, Traction Control System (TCS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Anti Slip Regulation (ASR).

Ford's new Ranger

Ford put its all-new Ranger on display for the first time – the actual vehicle launch only scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year.

“The all new Ranger delivers outstanding on and off-road performance, combined with the hauling and towing capability many of our customers need, especially in the agriculture sector,” says Jeffery Nemeth, president and CEO of FMCSA.  “The producers and the agriculture community are very important to us, so we built a vehicle especially to show at NAMPO.”

FMCSA’s Silverton Assembly Plant is ramping up production of the all new Ranger, which will be available by the end of the year.

“The launch is on schedule, and we are verifying all our processes and working closely with our supplier partners to make sure we exceed the expectations of our customers by delivering a high quality, fuel-efficient, extremely capable pickup truck,” added Nemeth.

FMCSA is investing R3-billion to transform its Struandale Engine Plant and the Silverton Assembly plant, adding capacity and upgrading technology.

The Silverton Assembly plant will increase its annual capacity to 110 000 vehicles for the production of the all new Ranger. At the Struandale engine plant, the global production hub for the Puma engine, capacity will grow to 220 000 engines to produce Ford’s new diesel engine.

This investment will increase local content from 35% to 65% and will drive a host of additional supplier investment and new jobs in the component supply base for South Africa.

Courtesy: Fleet Magazine

Going the extra mile

The product growth of Renault in South Africa to provide a fleet solution across all the major sectors stepped up with the introduction of the Fluence into what we refer to as the Medium Lower category, but the story about this car actually goes back to 2004.

In June of 2004 Renault used the Louis Vuitton Classic, Great Britain as a platform to launch its latest concept, the Fluence.

At the time, Renault’s head of design, Patrick le Quément, said: “Fluence is both a drawing and a sculpture. It blends bearing, generosity, elegance and fluidity.”

The concept car was a 4,6-metre coupé with voluptuous forms sculpted from simple, structured lines, but it was only in 2009 the concept became reality in the form of the Fluence as a four-door saloon designed with the aim of standing out as the most attractive car of its class.

This new, four-door saloon is 4,62 metres long and its size and generous levels of standard equipment place it halfway between the C segment, for compact family cars, and the segment immediately above.

Streamlined headlights herald the start of an elegant waistline, which sweeps harmoniously alongFluence’s sides to the boot. The surround and chromed grille of the upper air intake embellish the car’s front-end looks with a sporting flourish, while Renault Fluence’s status-enhancing appeal is heightened by its sculptured wheel arches and long bonnet. At the rear, the horizontal, two-part lights allow a generous boot aperture and reinforce the car’s thoroughly modern styling.

The sense of strength and safety is reinforced by the carefully proportioned balance between the windows and the large surface area of the doors, the lower part of which incorporates protective panels. Seen from the side, a distinctive character line flows rearward from the rounded front wings before emphasizing the solid rear haunches.

Renault Fluence creates an impression of quality, and particular attention has been paid to the fit and finish of body panels (windscreen pillars and refuelling flap, for example). The rear bumper incorporates discreet parking sensors. At rest, the windscreen wipers are tucked away behind the bonnet’s upper edge, partly for aesthetic reasons, but also to reduce wind noise and improve aerodynamic efficiency.

In the cabin, the airy facia design incorporates uncluttered lines complemented by the sweep of the dashboard trim strip. Significant care went into choosing the ideal materials and finish: the integrated upper dashboard cowling has a soft-touch finish, yet it is also resistant to everyday knocks and exposure to direct sunlight.

For the South Africa market, Fluence is offered in three derivatives – the 1,6-litre Dynamic or Expression and the 2,0-litre Privilege. All three options are petrol-driven with the 1 598 cm3 engines offering 81 kW at 6 000 r/min and 156 Nm at 4 400 r/min. The Privilege has a  1 997 cm3 engine with 105 kW on tap at 6 000 r/min and 195 Nm of torque from 3 750 r/min.

All versions have 5-speed manual gearboxes, electrically assisted power steering and feature a MacPherson strut type front suspension with torsion beam axle at the rear.

The sense of on board comfort is embellished by attention to detail in the realm of reduced noise levels and high standards of interior space, including class-topping elbow room (1,480 mm at the front, 1,475 mm at the rear).

Renault Fluence’s cabin provides more than 23 litres of stowage space, including a 2,2-litre centre console and a 2,6-litre bin in each front door. The 530-dm3 boot capacity is one of the biggest in its class. Access is facilitated by a low sill and a large (1 020 mm) aperture, which has been made possible by incorporating one part of the rear light cluster within the boot lid.

All models have a comprehensive range of leading safety features including anti-lock braking with EBD, front, side and curtain air bags, five three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters. The integrated Carminat TomTom navigation system is standard on all models and is integrated within the dashboard for quality and security. It is also easy to update and extend by simply linking its SD card to the internet.

Recently the French company was named the ‘Most Improved Fleet Manufacturer’ at the Fleet News Awards, recognition of  the series of initiatives which it has launched to enhance its fleet offering in the last year, including cost reduction and continued improvements in product and service quality.

According to the judges:  “Renault’s efforts in listening to what fleet operators want and going the extra mile to deliver it has resulted in a transformation in how it is now perceived in the industry.”

Those efforts form part of a global Renault plan known as Renault 2016 – Drive the Change, founded on Renault’s ambition to make sustainable mobility accessible to all. This strategic plan covers a six-year period with a mid-term review at the end of 2013. This will allow Renault to build a long-term strategic outlook to ensure continuity in operations and to establish precise, quantified priorities.

The Renault group will work on seven key levers to meet these objectives, these being to pursue the innovation policy, strengthen the product offer, reinforce the image of the Renault brand, ensure the excellence of the distribution network in customer relations, control investment and R&D expenditure, reduce costs and to maintain positions in Europe and pursue growth internationally.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive Officer of Renault, says: “The success of Renault 2016 – Drive the Change relies a more competitive Renault meeting stakeholder’s expectations; a strong Renault with a powerful brand image and a benchmark level of quality and services; a sustainable Renault in line with the energy and environmental challenges of the 21st century.”

Courtesy: Fleet magazine

Colin Windell is Editor of Fleet Magazine