All systems ‘go’ for Croner and Quon 8-wheeler

By: Steve Brooks

Senior Volvo Group Australia (VGA) executivees have confirmed that the Australian introduction of new UD Croner and Quon 8x4 models will go ahead as planned despite the startling announcement in late December of a ‘strategic alliance’ that will see Isuzu acquire UD in its entirety.

All systems ‘go’ for Croner and Quon 8-wheeler
UD Croner set for Aus


The Quest for Croner feature story was written long before news of the deal was made public.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, there was initial speculation that both Croner and the Quon eight-wheeler – both extensively engineered for the Australian market – might fail to see the light of a ‘Down Under’ day.

However, our sources have unequivocally stated that Croner will be launched as planned in the third quarter of 2020, followed quickly by the introduction of an impressive Quon eight-wheeler developed entirely for the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Ironically, one of the main design objectives for the Quon eight-legger was to develop a model with the ability to counter Isuzu Australia’s exceptional success in the 8x4 class. What’s more, after our insight into the new model’s development in Japan and a short stint behind the wheel, it’s clear UD has created a truck with the potential to tackle Isuzu head-on.

Down the track, though, it remains to be seen if Isuzu will allow UD to infringe on the market strength of its eight-wheeler models. Rationalisation in various markets including Australia is sure to be paramount as the alliance evolves.

Meantime, UD Trucks Australia vice-president, Mark Strambi, will retire in May after the launch of Croner and Quon 8x4.

He insists the decision to retire was made long before news of the UD sale to Isuzu, and he was totally unaware of any negotiations between the two companies. It will, however, be interesting to see if there will be a replacement for Strambi’s position.

Indeed, given the surprise and timing of the announcement, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that news of the sale came as a complete shock to senior executives at VGA, perhaps even to company president Martin Merrick.

Coming little more than a week after a significant event in Melbourne where Linfox chief Peter Fox, Martin Merrick and Volvo Group’s UD supremo Joachim Rosenberg exchanged pleasantries at the hand-over of the first trucks in a major deal, it has to be wondered if the Fox fold had any prior knowledge.

Strangely, it’s a statement from Isuzu Australia which says simply, "Linfox, which is buying 120 UD Quons for its BevChain operation, declines to comment, with a spokesman saying there was no material change in the firm's relationship with Volvo envisaged".

Not quite on the same scale but nonetheless indicative of the secrecy of negotiations, it’s hard to believe that VGA principals would have agreed to our trip late last year to Thailand and Japan for early insights into Croner and the Quon eight-wheeler if they had known what was on the horizon.

UD chief Joachim Rosenberg certainly gave no hints during our interview at UD’s Tokyo headquarters, even when asked why UD was using a badge-engineered Isuzu model to replace its superseded Condor in the Japanese domestic market.

Rosenberg was obviously playing his cards very close to the chest but he is almost certainly one of very few executives who would have been privy to sale discussions from the outset.

So as things stand at the moment, it’s largely a case of wait and see what 2020 brings. Whatever, the impacts of the ‘alliance’ are sure to be immense on both a domestic and global scale.

As for this report on Croner and an upcoming feature story on the new Quon eight-wheeler, we’ll go along with VGA’s assertion that it’s simply a case of ‘business as usual’.

For now!

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