On March 16, UD Trucks held a virtual awards ceremony for the winners of the Extra Mile Challenge 2020 local driving competitions. A total of 10 winners from 9 countries joined the ceremony virtually to be honored and officially crowned Ultimate Drivers.
The UD Extra Mile Challenge started in 2015 and is a global driver competition. It simulates a day in the life of a truck driver and tests both pre-inspection and driving techniques - from fuel efficient and safe driving to parking skills. In a normal year, local markets hold qualification rounds, and the best driver selected in each market qualifies to take part in the Global Final held at the UD Experience Center in the headquarters in Japan.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Japan Global Final. Instead of holding such an event, all local market winners have been chosen as Ultimate Drivers - a worthy designation considering these drivers kept trucks moving in spite of the pandemic, continuing to deliver the goods and necessities that we all depend on.
While the pandemic has also fueled the growth of e-commerce, the logistics industry remains highly competitive, making efficient drivers an essential asset for trucking companies. The ability of the driver to maximize fuel efficiency not only contributes to the bottom line, but helps reduce emissions and environmental impacts. The Extra Mile Challenge is a way to promote and recognize the safest and most fuel efficient drivers on our roads today.
Addressing the winners from Ageo headquarters in Japan, UD Trucks President Takamitsu Sakamaki said, “It is a shame that you cannot be with us in person to celebrate this occasion, but we are delighted that you could join us for this virtual event. You are truly the unsung heroes, supporting society in the midst of the pandemic, carrying food and medical supplies to people in need. We congratulate and thank you for your outstanding contribution to logistics.”
The winners were selected among 500 drivers, who competed in qualifying rounds held across nine countries - Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines. Each winner was awarded an Ultimate Driver prize box, which included a custom-made cap, shirt and masks. Last but not least the box contained two virtual airline tickets to Japan, which will be converted to actual tickets once the pandemic subsides and normal international travel resumes.
On behalf of the winners, Efren Zamora from the Philippines, thanked UD Trucks for its support, saying “COVID-19 added challenges to our daily work. In the Philippines, we were required to submit additional documentation when entering different cities, which hampered our operations somewhat. However, this was also motivation to improve my driving skills to maximize fuel efficiency while keeping safety as the top priority. Being recognized as an Ultimate Driver is a huge honor for me and I hope to become an even better driver in the future.”
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UD Trucks is a leading Japanese commercial vehicle solutions provider, active in more than 60 countries on all continents. Since its inception in 1935, the company has been an innovation leader with a clear vision to provide the trucks and services the world needs today.
The company is committed to go the extra mile for smart logistics with the most dependable solutions for demanding customers. To best support across applications and geographies, UD Trucks offers a full range of heavy duty trucks - Quon and Quester, medium duty trucks - Condor and Croner, and light duty trucks - Kazet and Kuzer, as well as associated operational and financial services.