UD Quon makes for a Happy New Year

By: Rob McKay

Lance Law wins the use of a new UD Quon for 12 months and he can’t wait to put it to work around north Queensland


Something had to give for Lance Law. Innisfail Carrying Company’s managing director admits success in competitions has long been a stranger. However, not any longer.

Perhaps it was the pent up pressure that finally broke his logjam of luck, leading to his winning free use of a new UD Quon for a year. The next step will be a challenge for a new vehicle that has already faced some gruelling examinations in western regions of Queensland and New South Wales.

For Law has the road due west to Mt Isa in mind, as well as some shorter Far North Queensland routes, as he seeks clues to his firm’s future fleet puzzle.

As he said, in the 25-words-or-less he had to impress the UD judges: "Being a combination of short and long haul contracts, I believe the Quon can give me the best of both worlds."

It was an answer that suited the message UD wants to get across to prospective buyers perfectly.

So, what lured Law to enter?

Well, nothing heavily profound. Really, it was to distract himself from the pressures that all trucking company owners and managers must deal with and clear his head, as much as anything.

It’s telling that, even by the time he told wife Diane the good news, the magnitude of what had fallen into his lap had still yet to sink in.

The prize UD – waiting on delivery

UD longevity

This will be Law’s first UD and, franking the truck-maker’s need for a strong marketing effort in his neck of the woods, he admits he knew little about the new Quon before now.

But he was exposed to the make at the start of his career when carting road and construction material, saying the CWs were "awesome" and "you couldn’t kill the old UDs".

"Back when I was a young fella, I worked with a company in sand, gravel and concrete, and a couple of our subbies had UDs," Law recalls.

"They were mighty trucks back then, with running gear that was second to none, so I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for them."

Innisfail Carrying Company (ICC) is a family-owned business that started in 1995 with one prime mover, and has since expanded to include several depots across Queensland while operating a fleet of 38 trucks.

Each operation reflects the town it is based in, hence TCC for Townsville and CCC for Cairns.

Law’s fleet consists mostly of Kenworths and Isuzus but he is looking forward to the change in a changing world to get a better idea of what the options are.

His is a relatively modest operation where brand new vehicles are a luxury and taking one on just for testing purposes would always be an unlikely proposition without this change of luck.

"This prize here has given me the chance to do it," he says.

The prize will be based in Townsville – where it will it will be serviced by the truckmaker – initially, but will certainly do work around Innisfail, as the drivers there are keen to get a hold of it.

Mark Strambi helps Lance Law get to grips with the Quon

The new Quon features a complete cabin redesign and a focus on enhanced ergonomics.

Refinements to the whole driveline have improved fuel efficiency, as well as complying with pPNLT Emissions Standards that exceed Euro 6 emission requirements.

Other technologies include Traffic Eye Brake and Lane Departure Warning.

Law says the trucks will start on B-double work with fertilisers in Innisfail.

"When that season finishes, we’ll trial the truck on two runs a week from Mt Isa to Townsville," he adds.

"It’ll be perfect to compare them to the two trucks we have doing that run now."

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Good feedback

Having an advanced new product spurred the domestic UD brains trust to creative action. And so the competition was born – an approach that would work for all sides on several levels.

"It was something that was different in the way we promoted the new Quon," UD Trucks Australia vice president Mark Strambi says.

"It was a product that was certainly far advanced, in Japanese terms, in technology. And we wanted to get that message out to customers and give them the opportunity to see it.

"Within the group, we’ve run something similar before. And it certainly worked, with 322 responses and very, very good feedback.

"The new Quon has created a lot of interest in the trucking industry and that’s reinforced by the numbers we’ve sold so far for the year.

"We’ll probably put 220 of these on the road by the end of December.

"If you think we’ve only had them in volume from April, so it’s only three-quarters of the year, and with the carryover orders we’ll take into 2019, we’re pretty happy with the way things are going."

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Also working to the gain of both UD and its future customers is what the truck-maker has taken to calling "The Ultimate Test Drive".

"That’s a good way of looking it," Strambi says.

"It gives us the opportunity to get honest open feedback from a customer who’s going to use it in an area where we wouldn’t normally have a test vehicle running, over an extended period of time.

"I know the way Lance runs his business and they’re very interested in the telematics side of it, which this vehicle offers. We use the group technology for telematics and we’ll be able to give him quick feedback as well on the truck and on his drivers.

"We’re going to work closely with him over the 12 months to make sure it does everything we said it would do."

A refurbished 1973 CK40 at UD headquarters in Wacol, Queensland. Mark Strambi says there’s still a few running around north Queensland

A year was chosen to allow it to work in a variety of tasks and conditions to give a comprehensive and measurable overview of its performance.

As the handover ceremony took place and was filmed, there was more than a ghost of UDs past on hand, and the fact that Law is based in Far North Queensland was apposite as Strambi has history there.

He points out that 1970s-vintage CKs can still be found working up there and he had come across a fair few as a regional manager.

It’s a heritage that resonates for the brand and a refurbished 1973 CK40 graces UD headquarters in Wacol, Queensland.

"Up north Queensland, those trucks cut their teeth in that sort of market and the 6x4s into the council market,"Strambi says.

"And realistically, what this new Quon does is open a lot of those doors and areas we haven’t been in for quite a while and I think we’ll do very well up there."

Support team

For Ross Gordon, the Volvo Commercial Vehicles Townsville branch manager whose operation looks after UD, along with showcasing the Quon and getting fresh-eyes feedback, the exercise aims to introduce Law to the group’s back-up services.

"It will give us the opportunity to show just how we at the Townsville dealership can support him in what he does," Gordon says.

"He’s looking to use it on the run from Mt Isa to Townsville, so we have ways of looking after him through the whole trip."

And what does the future hold for the vehicle itself? There are a couple of options. It could stay with a dealer and perhaps be used as a demonstration vehicle. But UD’s preferred course is that Law buys it – in which case, it will be optioned up for the next phase of its life.

"The diversity of Lance’s business and the region he operates in, really will showcase the benefits that this Quon is proven to have," Strambi says.

Diane and Lance Law with UD Trucks Australia vice president Mark Strambi and Volvo Commercial Vehicles Townsville branch manager Ross Gordon

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