Driving To Deliver Your Business

Interview: Nigel Butler, Commercial Director, Renault Trucks, on the UK truck market, DVS, and making trucks desirable for drivers

The truck market remains challenging but there is still good business to be had despite the pressures of the past few months, claims one of the senior figures in the UK truck industry.Nigel Butler, Commercial Director at Renault Trucks, said, ‘Things haven’t slowed down, our customers are still buying and, if anything, demand has ratcheted up [this year].’Nigel Butler, Renault Trucks UKThe second-hand sector is not quite as buoyant this year. ‘A number of dealers and manufacturers have got more used trucks in stock than they would ideally like,’ he observes.A lot of Euro 6 trucks acquired on two- or three-year contracts have now come onto the market, he says, and are not necessarily suitable for export. Overseas sales have traditionally represented a key part of the market, but countries in sub-Saharan Africa are struggling to deal with the advanced Euro 6 technology, claims Butler.Butler is happy with Renault’s used strategy however and not all operators of two-year-old trucks want to dispose of them yet. ‘At Renault we’re finding that a number of our customers are asking for one- or two-year lease extensions,’ he says. ‘Many of them represent conquest business, and if they are extending leases, that means they are happy with the product.’Butler and his colleagues are still pondering the latest developments in Transport for London’s Direct Vision Standard (DVS), which has the ambition of making it easier for truck drivers to spot vulnerable road users.The company has welcomed the clarification provided by TfL regarding the interim DVS’s star ratings. The manufacturer believes pedestrian and cyclist safety is best secured by a combination of direct vision and technology and is pleased to see the safety standard permit scheme that is being proposed.Renault has worked closely with TfL throughout the DVS consultation, says Butler, and has come up with a prototype low-cab-height Range D Tridem 32-tonner.

It looks set to appear at the next Freight in the City Expo (Alexandra Palace, London, 7 November). Power comes courtesy of a 320hp 8.0-litre diesel.The Tridem follows on from the low-entry Range D 6×2 26-tonne day-cab rigid that appeared earlier this year, developed in conjunction with Veolia as part of a ?5m two-year project.The Range D with improved visibility was co-developed with VeoliaAll city authorities want to see reductions in particulates, NOx and increasingly, NO2 – nitrogen dioxide. Over the last 18 months, Renault Trucks has embarked on a variety of zero-emission trial initiatives including a 4.5-tonne Maxity Electric fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell and a battery-powered Range D 16-tonner.‘We only bring vehicles to market when we are confident about the technology, though, and we’ll have an electric Master available in the UK by the end of 2018,’ Butler says.Renault has also developed versions of the Range D Wide rigid, including a 26-tonner, which will run on compressed natural gas.He believes that diesel remains the best solution at higher weights although manufacturers and operators have some scope in determining exactly which fuel the engine uses.No matter what fuel a truck uses someone still has to drive it; fully-autonomous trucks are a long way away from being a daily reality on Britain’s highways.

The driver shortage has not gone away Butler points out, and is being exacerbated by European drivers working for UK companies returning home because the decline in the value of sterling has hit their earnings.As a consequence hauliers are having to work hard to attract drivers while retaining the ones they have already got; and that includes specifying trucks with driver appeal.That’s a key reason why Renault has decided to launch the well-equipped Range T High tractor unit with its flat cab floor in right-hand-drive guise as its flagship model on this side of the Channel. ‘We should have the first one in the UK in the second half of November – we’re bringing in a dozen demonstrators – and we’ll be going into full production from February onwards,’ he says.Renault says its Range T has been developed very much with the driver in mind.Range T High offers a maximum 520hp. So does Renault Trucks have any ambitions to soar up to 700hp-plus in emulation of sister brand Volvo Trucks? Absolutely not, says Butler.‘If we did so it would be very much a vanity project,’ he states. ‘In fact, if I were offered a 16-litre 700hp model by the factory I’m not sure I’d take it.’The driver shortage can mean that operators sometimes end up employing drivers who are less proficient than they would ideally like.

This too is having an impact on the choices companies are making says Butler.‘So far as 6×2 tractor units are concerned we’re seeing a movement away from the 460hp 11-litre engine in favour of the 480hp 13-litre because the latter is a bit less sensitive to driving style than the former,’ he reports.‘If you’ve got a good driver then he’ll get good fuel economy from the 11-litre,’ Butler states. ‘If he’s not so good, then you should go for the 13-litre; the extra torque gives you a bit more flexibility.’SMMT – Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd. published this content on 26 October 2017 and is solely responsible for the information contained herein.
Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 26 October 2017 10:48:11 UTC.
Original documenthttps://www.smmt.co.uk/2017/10/interview-nigel-butler-commercial-director-renault-trucks-uk-truck-market-dvs-making-trucks-desirable-drivers/[1]


  1. ^ https://www.smmt.co.uk/2017/10/interview-nigel-butler-commercial-director-renault-trucks-uk-truck-market-dvs-making-trucks-desirable-drivers/ (www.smmt.co.uk)

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