MirtschoolbusAshok Leyland – Nissan Motor Company joint venture has recently unveiled ‘Partner’ truck and ‘MiTR’ bus in the LCV segment. Based on Nissan’s Atlas F24 platform these vehicles are completely redesigned to suit local conditions. Interestingly, Nissan, UD Nissan Diesel (a Volvo AB company) and Renault- Nissan alliance has been manufacturing Atlas F24 for more than a decade. In addition, under a reciprocal agreement, the partners  – Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (subsidiary of Daimler),and Nissan Motor Company sell the same vehicle. The former sells Fuso Canter-variant badged as Nissan Atlas while the latter it as Fuso Canter. Well, what is so great about this platform? Vice chairman of Ashok Leyland, Sumantran says, “the F24 is a very optimally configured vehicle in the four to six tonne segment. While there are other users, the IPR is with our partner Nissan.”

The cabin is retained in Partner while MiTR has been completely reworked to suit local conditions. It enabled the company to achieve localisation up to 95 percent. Major components including frame, transmission and suspension have been redesigned to achieve the requisite cost proposition. Besides, it helped in doubling the load carrying capacity of the Partner to four tonne payload when compared with Atlas F24.

ParttnerThe JV company has reconfigured the three-litre Common Rail TCIC Nissan ZD30 diesel engine to spew 118 hp @ 2750 rpm, churning out 320Nm Torque @ 1500-2400 rpm.  Compatible for BS3 and BS4 norms the DDTI (double overhead camshaft), high pressure (1,600 bar) common rail injection, turbo intercooled engine is tuned for a flat torque of 320 Nm, which is upgradable to 400Nm with a 15 percent back up torque for better drivability on different terrains. The peak torque, therefore, has been increased from the original 280 Nm to 320 Nm.

Since Indian drivers, unlike their peers in developed countries, tend to drive at lower speeds at higher gears, “we have re-tuned the engine by boosting the low end torque. We depowered the engine from 110 kW to 87 kW, eventually de-speeding the engine. Reduction in friction and combustion chamber optimisation reduced engine weight by three percent. The engine, fitted with viscous fan drive and mated with a full synchromesh gearbox with five forward and one reverse, offers five to eight percent more fuel economy over the same category of vehicles,” he said. About four million vehicle km tests were conducted before the launch, Sumantran added.

The cabin is improved in terms of reinforcements to take on the rough roads. The larger door openings in the cabin is an attraction and the load body height (455 mm) facilitates easy loading and unloading of cargo. The large windshield allows better forward view, while its sloping waistline expands side visibility. Rounded and cubic shape of the cabin improves on aerodynamics.

The six-tyre version of Partner comes in 2,850mm and 3,350mm wheelbase, and two sizes of load body (3,415 mm and 4,235mm) with 6600kgs GVW. Plans are on to launch a four-tyre variant soon. In addition to regular load body, refrigerated carriers and curtain slider (for logistics and white goods segment) and tippers are on the cards.

While MiTR has parabolic suspension in both front and the rear, the truck has it only in the front axle to improve cabin comfort. MiTR is offered as a school bus and staff bus as well. While the 6-tyre 27-seat configuration will be available soon, the 16-seater 4-tyre version, including an air-conditioned variant, will be launched by June. Tubular hat-rack for overhead storage has contributed to weight savings. It has two emergency exits (side and rear) and meets stringent MH/TN regulations on the School Bus Code. Both the vehicles have cable-operated gear shifter and power-assisted tilt steering as standard feature. “There is a demand for improving operating economics and we hope with the improved fuel efficiency and driveability, Partner and MiTR will plug the gap,” Sumantran concluded. (END)

Story: T Murrali


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