Story by: Bhushan Mhapralkar

The Blazo X from Mahindra & Mahindra now has better fuel efficiency, higher payload and the ability to offer better productivity and profitability than its previous model Blazo. The company made these achievements through significant changes at the product level. The truck promises 5-7% fuel efficiency gain, in some models it can be 9-10%, owing to the online and off-line process changes, investment in new technologies and equipment, and stringent testing processes. The changes in the assembly-line and improved manufacturing consistency ensure that every Blazo X has the same quality and finish levels, according to Vinod Sahay, CEO, Mahindra Truck and Bus.

There are 2-3 major technical changes that have been effected in Blazo X. The turbocharger has changed. It is now a waste-gate unit for a more precise turbo management. It also aids the availability of air to ensure better combustion and efficiency. The intercooler has been changed to improve cooling efficiency. “We have also moved to low friction oil in the engine, transmission, and the rear axle. The increase in fuel efficiency by 5-7% or more than that in some of the variants is a net impact of these changes. The fuel system has been further optimised,” he said.

About the reasons for these changes, Sahay said, “It is no secret that every CV manufacturer is working on fuel-efficiency. It is the most important parameter in the operating economy of the fleet. Our recent calculation has shown that fuel accounts for over 55% of the operating costs post the diesel price hike unlike earlier when it accounted for 50%. We gained a good lead in fuel efficiency in BSIII. It was then that we benchmarked against the industry offerings. In BSIV, we took time to benchmark against the competition to claim that the Blazo was the most fuel-efficient truck. Improvements carried out by the competition to their products brought us feedback that the gap was narrowing. The demand emerged that Mahindra Truck and Bus must make the Blazo to offer even higher fuel efficiency. The Blazo X was primarily conceived to address this requirement. We have fuel efficiency in our organisation. One of the few things we want to benchmark is fuel efficiency.”

Contributing to the journey of Blazo to Blazo X, the changes at the manufacturing stage have also had an effect on the engine, and on the use of different components in the cooling system, in the fuel delivery system, and on the transmission and axle. If the rising manufacturing discipline would help to address future requirements, the changes at the plant are ensuring that the Blazo X meets the market requirements as well as the regulatory changes.

Accounting for a change in the takt time with the Furio sharing the line with the Bazo X, in view of the move to BSVI emission norms from 2020, changes are expected to take place at the sediment level (and at the supplier level). Ensuring the incorporation of an amount of flexibility, the changes in the plant level would improve tracking, traceability and ‘Poka-Yoke’.

Though not far different in appearance than the Blazo, except for the badging and the stickering, the Blazo X gains from some significant changes deep inside. The first to be evident is the gain in refinement. “We have done a lot of work towards comfort and refinement. This includes the seat, steering (that is tiltable), ergonomics overall, and the size of the cabin. We have worked with the cabin NVH even though the cabin is not of the fully suspended variety. It is three-point suspended. We did extensive trials with our drivers. We also benchmarked against the competition, and in field conditions. The drivers found that they could drive for an hour or two longer than they would in competition trucks with cabs made out of cowl chassis or trucks with older cab designs. From an operator’s point of view, it amounts to more kilometers covered in a given time frame. We are looking at more and more clients to utilise their trucks more; take advantage of the benefit they offer. Trucks are becoming like aircraft. The more they are flown, the more they will deliver. The tendency to buy as per the initial acquisition cost has to change. To encourage such change we are providing transporters a taste of world-class products,” he said.

Aimed at the container, tanker and bulker markets among others, the cabin of the Blazo X 31 feels airy and spacious. With controls within reach, the cabin is equipped with storage bins at the top. Behind the seat is a berth that could be used by one driver to sleep when the other is behind the wheel. The seats itself are quite supportive and comfortable. The driver’s seat offers an amount of adjustability to ensure a commanding yet comfortable driving position. The sweeping dash is a modern design and without any difference from that of the Blazo.

On the centre console is a sole blower switch with a round dial and a button. Drawing air effectively, the blower follows the government mandate that came into effect in January 2018. Turn the ignition switch on the steering column and an array of warning lamps come on as part of the instrument panel and go away. Had it not been for their colour and symbols, they would have looked like the tiny lights on a Christmas tree. Reflecting the modern nature of the truck, the instrument panel contains an LCD readout at the centre. It works as an information system, and indicate the average fuel consumption, air brake pressure among other info.

One of the few trucks in the market to be equipped with a 10-bar air pressure brake system even before the new axle norms came in, the Blzo X comes to life with a muted growl. The 274 hp, six-cylinder 7.2-litre common-rail diesel engine settles down smoothly, Shay said.

Engaging the gear on the modern six-speed Eaton gearbox gets the truck going, hinting at how the market requirements and regulations are coming to influence the evolution of trucks. The shift quality of the robust unit may not compare with that of a car; it is, however, better than some of the older designs on the market. Contributing to a positive driving feel, the truck moves out of the bay with no hesitation. Of the three switches of the Fuelsmart tech, it is the ‘heavy’ mode that is on. Responding well to the inputs, the truck picks up speed. Subject to two to three major technical changes, according to Sahay, the truck feels easy to manoeuvre. The major technical changes being the move to a new waste-gate turbocharger, an intercooler, an electro-viscous cooling fan, and low friction oil (for the engine, transmission, and rear axle), the Blaxo X comes across as a different product over the Blazo.

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