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Monday, March 10, 2014

A T1 Truck Race – Are you serious, Weren't Trucks meant for Carrying Loads???

Much to the Motorsport enthusiast’s delight, year 2011 saw the entry of Formula 1(F1) in India with the race being organized at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC). We all have had experienced Go-Karting at one point or the other but a F1 race was like a dream come true for many.

Come 23rd March and yet again the entire country is to witness another major sporting event after Formula 1. But this time it won’t be zooming cars but Mammoth Trucks which will actually burn rubber on the Track. In line with the F1 the Truck Race has been named T1.

Trucks? Are we Serious? Really!!!! Aren’t Trucks meant for just carrying loads on Highways???

As a layman when we think “Trucks”, our first visualization is that of a Slow Moving, Fuel Guzzling - Smoke Throwing big chunks of Metal driven by filthy & unhygienic drivers. These are also often seen and represented as an “Evil on Roads”, be it a 70s movie or a latest Yash Raj flick.

So, a Truck Race???

Well the answer is a big “Yes”. The entire Idea behind the race is to give due recognition & respect to “Trucking” as a profession. Unlike United States or various EU countries, driving a truck in India is seen as a blot and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find good potential truck drivers across the country.

The entire credits for the T1 Truck Race goes to Tata Motors, India’s leading Truck manufacturer which from time to time through several initiatives like Driver Training Institutes and Programs, Driver Life Insurance and other driver focused facilities have been trying to support the truck drivers and thus the profession. Truck Racing is a step forward to honor this profession and celebrate it with the due importance it deserves.

OK…. tell me More about this….!!!!!

The first ever Truck Race was organized in US at the Atlanta Motor Speedway way back in the summer of 1979. American Truck Racing Association(ATRA) was the sole sport authority for organizing these races. However in past few years, England Truck Racing has attained new levels and now in total 30 teams competes for excellence. To compete in racing the Trucks have to meet the safety guidelines issued by British Truck Racing Association (BTRA).

Maximum speed of trucks is limited to 160Kmph for safety reasons and the weight of Trucks need to be minimum 5500Kg.

Coming on to Indian version T1, in total 12 Prima 4038 Trucks (All Tata Brand) divided among Six Teams will compete with each other.

In order to meet the safety guidelines a whopping 22 modification have been carried out with significant changes in Fuel, Exhaust & Braking system. The trucks get an all new exclusive racing seats & seat belts along with detachable steering column. Each truck is powered by 370HP motor and the top speed is designed to go up-to 110Kmph.

T1 Racing Truck

Great to hear that…. “What Next”???

Since the entire event has been conceptualized by Tata Motors and all the competing vehicles comes from TML’s stable it clearly reflects the TML’s technological superiority & capability to steer ahead in the CV space. It’s all about the durability and performance under extreme conditions to which these trucks will be exposed to prove their worth.

In line with the TML’s vision – One Step Ahead of Competition, the technology in these trucks represents the future of trucking in India, and is once again being showcased for the first time by Tata Motors.

Thrilled!!!!!…. When & Where???

23rd March 2014 @ Buddh International Circuit, Yamuna Expressway, Greater Noida.

More details at:-

Friday, March 07, 2014

Finally The Bulls Lock their Horns - Will it be Survival of the Fittest

Amid much fanfare Tata Motors launched 10 new products under its Prima LX Range at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. The Gross vehicle Weight (GVW) of the launched products ranges from 25T to 49T. This includes 4 Tippers & 2 Multi Axle Trucks in 25T & 31T Category viz Prima LX 2523T, Prima LX 3123T, Prima LX3123KPrima LX2523K & 4 Tractors in 40T & 49T category viz Prima LX4023, Prima LX4923, Prima LX4928 & Prima LX4028.

Prima Lx Range Launch
With this launch the Product Portfolio of Tata Motors expands to a new level where in these products neatly fit in the Existing Range & the High End Prima Range of World Trucks.

Prima LX 3128K

Prima LX 2523K

Prima LX 3123T
Prima LX 4028S
Prima LX 2523T
Prima LX 2523K

This launch reminds me of a similar article written on this very blog 2 years back which focused on the new product developments by various CV manufacturers and an anticipated onslaught by the upcoming new entrant in Indian CV space – Bharat Benz.

Though as per plans CV manufacturers did launch their products in time yet last 2 years have been the worst hit for CV industry with TIV reducing to the all-time low. With 70 dealers Bharat Benz entered the Indian CV industry. With consistent sales in different segments BB has managed to clock sales which as yet cannot be considered viable but good enough for a new entrant in this dwindling TIV. Recently DICV under which the Bharat Benz brand trucks are retailed in India made a filing with Bureau for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR).

Today’s launch can be seen as Tata Motors’s quest in maintaining its lead to provide highly reliable products, meeting todays challenging environment in trucking & upgrading its customers to more modern Trucking system. With this launch TML intends to upgrade its customers to a higher Power to Weight (P/W) ratio trucks.

High P/W ratio coupled with increasing infrastructure tends to lower down the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for the years for which vehicle remains in operation. With more refined aggregates, TML has gone a step ahead to enhance the number of years in a Life-cycle of a Truck. Generally a Truck sees an average life of 48 months with its First Owner and can see upto 4-5 ownership shifts in a total life-cycle of 15 Year limit set by the government.

Though the LX range was conceptualized quite some time back but TML's launch comes at a time when the CV industry has started showing little signs of revival. This could be seen as one strategic move by TML.

Brief Salient features of the vehicles are as under:-

So finally the Bull Horns are locked and coming months could well be an Acid Test for their Zeal to Supremacy.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Truckers – Heroes of the Highway or Rogues of the Road?

The American stereotype of the trucker is a simple but powerful one; truckers are guys with infinite knowledge of the road, blokes with huge beards (and bellies). People that are both physically and mentally strong. The stereotype of the hardened American trucker is often romanticised and perpetuated on screen, elevating them to hero status in American culture. In short, Truckers are ‘real men’. In Britain however, we don’t seem to share quite the same view. Allow me to elaborate.

“As American as Apple Pie”
This is included in the opening sentence on the recruitment page over on napiertruck.com and they are not wrong, at least when it comes to the way American truckers are perceived.  An industry which is well loved, much needed and honourable seems to be the common consensus, but here in Britain we fail to share this love of trucking – for a start we don’t call it trucking (which is quite clearly an awesome term), we call it driving an annoying lorry.

“Lorry Drivers are Rude and Selfish”
Weeklygripe.co.uk worked with this title for a blog post in which the writer proceeded to write a less than flattering article on lorry drivers and their lack of road etiquette. This opinion is echoed by drivers around the country. In fact, a recent poll on lovemoney.com found that 21% of drivers surveyed listed the lorry driver as the most annoying driver on the road (although 41% found elderly drivers to be the most irritating, you’re pretty screwed if you’re an elderly lorry driver).

Truckers Dictating Fashion?
The trucker hat has formed part of teen culture. Not old enough to drive a truck (or possibly even be tall enough to sit in one without a booster seat) droves of youngens have embraced the trend of the trucker hat. This has seeped into teen culture here in Britain with trucker hats worn by the masses declaring all kinds of weird and wonderful slogans.
Back to the UK and our truckers aren’t quite as fashion forward. Eddie Stobart have given merchandising a go and seen some success. It’s slightly more practical than fashionable; check out this oh-so-practical raincoat.

I think it’s safe to say we’re unlikely to see gangs of teens roaming the streets in a sensible Eddie Stobart raincoat. Giving credit where credits due, the marketing team have worked hard to push the brand in other directions, creating activity books for children on long journeys which has proved popular amongst stressed out parents.

Trucks Look Cool, Lorries Look Practical
What makes American trucks cool in the eyes of other drivers is the personality injected into the vehicles. Brightly lit with comical signs to boot, the trucks trek up and down the highways of America bringing joy to onlookers impressed by the effort.

Hopping back over to the UK, and the staple decoration of our lorries has long been the hilarious “clean me” added by the finger of a joker back at the depot. Teamed with a brightly coloured sign that, contrary to the bright lights and jolly slogans of the American truck, asks road users “How’s my Driving?” and urging them to call the number below if it’s not up to scratch. 

Giving Drivers the Horn
We Brits are not famed for our fun-loving nature. We are much better and keeping our heads and down with a permanent air of cynicism towards anybody who breaks the mould.

Okay, this heading sounds rude, but in America, “giving someone the horn” means a completely different and much more innocent thing. Truckers sounding their horn when given the sign by others’ delights drivers and passengers in America (particularly children) and they’ll ask for it by holding their fist in the air and pulling it down; the national sign for “please honk your horn”.

This extract from a thread from thetruckersreport.com shows the American trucker attitude towards giving other drivers a bit of cheer on their travels:

If kids wave at me and want to hear my airhorn, I happily oblige, after looking around to make sure I don't scare some jumpy Grandpa/Grandma or teenager off the road!” signed off with a cheery emoticon of a thumbs up.

Again, Eddie Stobart picked up on this fun culture, but this was coupled with a very strict policy that all drivers must wave back and honk their horn on request (drivers would also face disciplinary action if caught on the road not wearing a tie) which kind of saps the fun out of the game.

But let’s back up for a minute. Truckers are loved by America because they encapsulate tradition and culture, but isn’t that exactly what British lorry drivers are doing? They may not typically be as fun loving as their American counterparts, but they work hard and press on. The serious expression you might see as you bypass a lorry on the motorway is one that we have adopted as a nation in our everyday lives. Do we say hello to people we pass in the street? More often than not the answer is no.

Let’s celebrate our British lorry drivers who are keeping our economy running and getting the job done. They are not the rogues of the road, they are the quieter, quintessentially British conquerors of the UK carriageways.

About the Author
Vikki is an automotive writer for Walker Movements. Since joining the team she has developed a soft spot for UK lorry drivers and enjoys the quintessentially British pastime of spotting Eddie Stobart lorries on the motorway.