Assembling the FAW trucks at the facility. Picture: FAW TRUCK SA
Assembling the FAW trucks at the facility. Picture: FAW TRUCK SA

FAW Vehicle Manufacturers SA has notched up another record in its ever-expanding success story. The latest milestone to be added to the firm’s history is the 3,000th locally built vehicle to roll off the production line at Coega, Eastern Cape.

FAW SA’s history started modestly more than 20 years ago selling trucks locally. In recent years it has ramped up its expansion plans for the South African market. The company has made a major commitment in the last four years amounting to more than $100m in investment in the local plant’s infrastructure, job creation and training. The Coega-based plant and body-building facility have been in full operation for more than three years.

When the production line was recently geared for the new FAW 33.420, the line integration went off without a hitch, says the company. The 33.420FT truck tractor is the newest truck to be built by FAW SA. The company says it follows a tradition of very sturdy trucks with high performance levels, low operating costs, high efficiencies, easy driveability and low cost on maintenance and repair.

Its predecessor was one of the top sellers in the FAW stable.

The Coega plant has increased production to include almost all FAW commercial vehicles sold in the local and southern African regions.

Customer demand specifically for locally built FAW trucks has increased exponentially in the last three years says the company.

This most recent achievement was pegged in the calendar earlier in October when the Coega plant employees cheered as the 3,000th locally built truck was signed off at the last quality inspection gate, giving rightful claim to the company’s motto — "Built in South Africa, for Africa".

The 3,000th FAW truck rolls off the assembly line at the company’s plant in Coega, Eastern Cape. Picture: FAW TRUCK SA
The 3,000th FAW truck rolls off the assembly line at the company’s plant in Coega, Eastern Cape. Picture: FAW TRUCK SA

A growing number of truck dealers who traditionally placed their orders for vehicles built by FAW China continue to move their orders to originate out of SA due to the shorter lead time for delivery, the levels of quality from the South African plant and the reduced cost of sourcing FAW vehicles on the same continent.

"What is most gratifying is that many of our units being bought by sub-Saharan customers are now second-and third-generation repurchases. This affirms our commitment for service and support into the African regions," says Jianyu Hao, CEO of FAW SA.

The Coega plant has also been the bedrock for further investments in the Eastern Cape region as a number of China-based industrial giants have visited Coega to see first-hand what the region can offer in infrastructure, logistics and labour. The FAW SA plant was the first large-scale investment by a China-based company in the Eastern Cape region. A number of China-based companies are said to be considering following suit.

As the successor model to the older and popular FAW 28.380FT truck tractor, the new unit, fitted to the FAW 33.420FT 6x4 truck tractor, is said to have some significant improvements, which all contribute to making this one of the most cost-effective in its class, with a particularly low cost per kilometre. One of the most important new features is the increased horsepower, which is now rated at 420hp (309kW) hence the name. This power is produced through the six-cylinder in-line water-cooled, turbocharged and intercooled FAW engine.

The Euro 2 vehicle has torque of 1,750Nm between 1,200 r/min and 1,600 r/min, and a power output of 309kW coming in at 2,200 r/min. The engine also features an air filter with a prefilter for cleaner operation and 24V electrical systems with easy access to electric relays.

The manual 12-speed transmission is said to provide easy driving. The robust chassis is of the straight ladder-type and is riveted with no bolts or chassis flanges. The chassis has been built with high levels of quality, keeping durability in mind, says FAW.

A number of other features include the change of the size of the fuel tank to a larger 600l aluminium tank.

The braking system combined with full air-braking ABS, drum brake with S-cams and automatic slack adjusters, and exhaust brake all contribute to the ease of driving and safety on and off the road says the company.

All this also contributes to better performance without compromising cost of operation.

The semisleeper forward-tilting cab has been designed with driver and passenger safety, and comfort in mind, as well as easy access for maintenance. Comfort features include air-conditioning and radio with MP3 and USB connection. A large windscreen and angled side windows, with large proximity mirrors and curb-side mirrors, offer good visibility.

Making the driver’s "office" even more comfortable and safer are a heavy-duty air-suspension driver seat with height-adjustable control, movable and telescopic steering column, and inertia-type driver and passenger seat belts. For added convenience the tubeless radial tyres (315/80 R22.5 16PR) can be inflated via a tyre inflation pipe straight from the air-tank.

The new FAW 33.420FT truck tractor looks likely to again get good support from the market. FAW SA says its customers are already ordering for various applications such as on-road long haul, short and medium haul on and off-road, side tippers, agricultural operations, construction and mining.

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