UD Trucks

UD Trucks celebrates 80th anniversary in 2015

25 May 2015 | Print Download

During 2015, UD Trucks will be celebrating its 80th anniversary of its foundation in 1935.

Founder Kenzo Adachi believed that trucks must be durable, fuel efficient, offer high uptime and ample loading capacity. Over the past 80 years, UD Trucks has developed products that meet these criteria, while also reducing the total cost of ownership.

“All of us at UD Trucks, from product development to manufacturing and sales, have been united in applying our founder’s passion for trucks,” said UD Trucks president, Yoshihiro Murakami.  “Always providing the best solutions to transportation challenges, UD Trucks will continue to support the development of the logistics industry and contribute to the economic growth of the countries it operates in for the next 80 years, by introducing the best solutions and utilizing the cutting-edge technologies of the time.”  

With the brand promise of “Going the Extra Mile“, UD Trucks offers products with a high level of fuel efficiency, uptime, reliability, durability, drivability, while meeting today’s demanding safety and environmental standards with modern technology.

To celebrate UD Trucks 80th anniversary, a brand new UD Experience Center will be opened in May in Japan and its new headquarters building will be completed in July, both at the main factory site in Ageo, Japan. 

Please see the video of UD Trucks’ 80th history here.

UD Trucks has been present in South Africa since 1962, and over the past 53 years it has been the professionalism, passion and dependability of the people who have been part of the UD Trucks family, that have carried the brand to reach multiple milestones and successes.  

“Throughout its rich and diverse history in the region, UD Trucks has produced legendary vehicles that have built an outstanding reputation in the local transport industry.  This is mainly due to their unrelenting reliability, versatile performance and suitability to local road and operating conditions,” said Rory Schulz, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa.

Kenzo Adachi founded Nihon Diesel Industries (later UD Trucks) in December 1935. The company developed the first Japanese-made diesel truck engine in 1938, followed by the first Japanese-made diesel truck, LD1, in November 1939. Dedicated to ensuring ultimate dependability, Adachi himself took the LD1 on a legendary test drive of 3 000km in the same year. Although Japan’s roads at the time were unpaved and the country was full of narrow roads and bridges, not a single bolt came loose and not one spring broke on the LD1 on its journey.

Birth of the original UD engines
At the start of the 1950s, construction of infrastructure that included power sources, roads, railways, ports and large-scale plants led to rising demand for large, high-horsepower trucks. In January 1955, two new diesel UD engines were released: the three-cylinder 110-horse-power UD3 and the four-cylinder 150-horsepower UD4. The six-cylinder 230-horsepower UD6, launched in June, was the most powerful in Japan, and acclaimed as the lightest engine per horsepower in the world at the time. 

The engines used pioneering ‘uniflow scavenging diesel engine’ technology – abbreviated “UD” – and the UD name and symbol has been on all engines and trucks the company has released ever since.
The 6TW, launched in 1958, contributed to infrastructure development, during rapid economic growth. The truck was used in the construction of Kurobe Dam, a famously challenging dam to build. With the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, 6TW also played an important role in construction of infrastructure that ran from high-speed expressways to the bullet train, and high-rise hotels. The T80 2-axle export version also became a popular workhorse in Asia and around the world.

In South Africa, the first UD Trucks vehicles were imported into the country by Stanley Motors in Johannesburg in 1962.  This model series was originally known as the T80 and T81, both 4x2 units.

The decades that followed saw numerous local introductions of now legendary models, like the UG780, CK10 and CK20, the UG780 engine during the ADE era in the 1980s, as well as the CM range which consisted of the CM10, 12, 14 and 16 derivatives.

In the 70s, there was a shift from the mass production of single products to high-mix, low-volume production and the expansion of cold chain logistics for transporting fresh products and frozen foods in the food distribution industry. 

Consequently, there was greater demand for medium-duty trucks capable of economical and efficient transportation over short and medium haul. Condor, launched in Japan in 1975, met those needs, and the model has developed over the years and went through a full model change in 2011 globally.  

In South Africa, UD Trucks remains the top-selling Heavy Commercial Vehicle with its UD60 to UD100 model range.  

From 1998 to 1999, the company launched its Extra Heavy Vehicle range with OE engines in South Africa namely the PF6 series, and in the process became the first manufacturer to complete the transition back to Original Equipment. The company also embarked on its first venture into the 6x4 high-end truck-tractor market segment with the UD 430 WT featuring a RF8 engine.  

The launch of the UD 440 series signaled the start of a new age in the history of the company, making serious inroads into the upper end of the market – the first Japanese manufacturer to do so locally.

In 2002, Nissan Diesel South Africa formally separated from the passenger car operations to become a dedicated trucking company, with 80% of the company owned by Nissan Diesel Motor Corporation in Japan and the balance held by Mitsui.

The innovative Escot transmission was first introduced into the market on the UD 290 WM and UD 400 KT during 2004 and at the same time, the then Nissan Diesel South Africa first offered maintenance contracts to customers.

The state-of-the-art Quon extra heavy truck range was launched in 2008, utilising new-generation technology across the model line-up.  The assembly plant was also revamped to double its capacity, while the Parts Warehouse and Training Academy were upgraded to meet growing demand.

In 2010, the company’s entire range met Euro II emission standards with the launch of the company’s new HCV engine range.  

As a means of unifying its identity as a global brand with a worldwide presence and as one of the leading brands in the Volvo Group, in 2010 the company name was changed from Nissan Diesel to UD Trucks Corporation along with adopting UD Trucks as its unified brand name.

In 2012, UD Trucks Southern Africa again moved the benchmark higher with the launch of the new generation Quon extra heavy range.  

UD Trucks launched “Quester” – the first Japanese truck developed uniquely for growth markets around the world. With excellent fuel efficiency, reliability and durability, providing modern, affordable efficiency for modernizing and professional customers in these markets, the Quester was made to go the extra mile.

The Quester range was launched in South Africa in March 2015.

“UD Trucks continues to go the extra mile to provide our customers with ultimately dependable trucks and services,” said Schulz. “We are committed to this journey, travelling on this road to success with our customers.”

For more stories from UD Trucks, please visit http://www.udtrucks.co.za.  

About UD Trucks

UD Trucks is a total transport solution provider dedicated to delivering optimized total cost of ownership to its customers. It sells and serves light, medium and heavy duty trucks as well as special vehicles. UD Trucks was established in Japan in 1935 and became part of the Volvo Group in 2007. With its headquarters located in Ageo, Japan, UD Trucks supports sales and services in more than 60 countries through a worldwide network. 

UD Trucks Southern Africa, with its headquarters and assembly plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria has 65 dealers across Southern and Eastern Africa.  The region remains UD Trucks’ top-selling market outside of Japan.  

Share on