A drive around the wider Auckland area will reveal increasing Shacman X3000s on the road. A couple of days spent with Auckland-based Quick Earth Moving and its X3000 tipper demonstrated why.
Speak to anyone involved in the supply of heavy trucks, and they’ll tell you the New Zealand market is unique. It is also one of the more challenging to service, requiring a thorough understanding of legislated restrictions, buyer preferences and how to best match and cater to both.
For this reason, new players, especially at the heavier end of the market, are – let’s say – cautious and few and far between. Kiwi buyers know what they want, know what works and, overall, are brand loyal. Trying to get a foothold as a ‘newcomer’ is not for the faint of heart.
New, but not so new
While Shacman may have only begun to appear in New Zealand from 2021, the brand was founded by the Shaanxi Automobile Holding Group Co in 1968. Positioned as a ‘multinational automotive products manufacturing and service provider’, it is represented in more than 100 countries. In New Zealand, sales, service and parts are run from the company’s Wiri office, with a network of dealers slowly being built.
You’d have to commend director Weir Wang and general manager Bobby Khan for introducing a new OEM to the market amid a global pandemic and the embattled supply chain that comes with it.
“Lockdowns have caused a real issue with sales; we have more than 35 delayed orders at the moment due to the factory having been placed in lockdown,” Bobby says. “There are currently about 25 Shacman X3000s running mainly around Auckland.”
The very first of those was an X3000 6×4 tipper bought a year ago by Dabo You, general manager of Quick Earth Moving Limited (QEM). In January, he added a second truck (seen on these pages) to his fleet. A third should’ve joined the party when this issue hits the shelves.
As is the way with Chinese brands, several global component manufacturers are employed to supply the oily bits, and for New Zealand, Weir and Bobby have ensured only those familiar to the local market are offered – Cummins power, Eaton and Allison transmissions, ZF steering, Wabco valves…
“There are other drivetrain options – Weichai engines, Fast gearboxes – but they’re not represented here. Eaton, Alison and Cummins are all here, and they’re proven in this market. There’s nothing alien to the operators, and we’re finding they are comfortable with it. The combination has been well received. Plus, Cummins’s support has been fantastic,” Bobby says.
When introducing the X3000, the decision was made to offer a standard spec of a 440hp Cummins ISM Euro-5 engine coupled to a 10-speed Eaton Ultrashift AMT. However, more power can be ordered, especially for those who want to tow.
Speaking of which, a Ringfeder is currently one of just three equipment options offered, the other two being the BroLube automated lubrication system and the Kiwi Tarp retractable tarp system. Everything else you see here is standard from the factory – even the 11.5m 3 Hardox bin, which we’re told has been created to suit local requirements. “It’s a turnkey idea that works for a lot of operators,” Bobby says.
It’s early on a Friday morning when I meet up with the X3000 and its driver Peter Stace. Both man and machine are new to the job, with just 6700km under the Shacman’s belt and about four weeks with QEM for Peter. However, he was not unfamiliar with the QEM operation, as he had been sub-contracting for the company for quite some time before joining QEM full-time. It was handy for Dabo that the arrival of both Peter and the X3000 roughly coincided.
“I was happy to jump straight in,” says Peter. “I’m not specific about the truck I drive, I look after the gear regardless,” he says.
Our first job for the day consists of a few runs between a residential build in Manurewa East, a dumpsite in Papatoetoe and Winstone’s Hunua Quarry outside Papakura.
Jumping aboard, the first impression is that the cab is light and airy. The driver gets an air-sprung Grammer seat while the passenger’s is rigidly mounted but comfortable. There’s a narrow bed, side and rear curtains, and some nifty roll-down sunshades with one-touch retraction for driver and passenger. The instruments, dash and wrap all have a Eurocentric design and everything seems to be durable and fairly well screwed together. However, this cab’s main drawback is that storage space is on the light side – with just some narrow trays in the overhead and a few shallow and oddly shaped pockets in the wrap and central dash. Peter has solved that problem with a plastic tub and lid on the floor between the seats for documents and oddments storage. However, if the driver or passenger are smokers, there should be more than enough ashtrays at hand – two each. (Probably tells you something about Shacman’s home market…)
In the driver’s seat, commanding the Shacman is an easy affair. The ‘leather’- wrapped wheel is adjustable and nice to hold, boasting audio and phone controls on the left spoke and cruise on the right. The Eaton Shifter falls right to hand and just back from that are the brake levers. The orderly wrap contains the Shacman infotainment and telematics system (more on that later), climate controls and switches for axle/diff locks, PTO, et al. sit neatly below in two rows, with more than enough space for any accessory switches to be added.
As we drive around town, one of the first impressions is how smooth the drivetrain is. The Cummins ISM emits a throaty sound as it deploys its 324kW (440hp) and 2020Nm (1490lb/ft), and with 10-odd tonnes on the back, pulling off in third or even fourth on a flat is easy. Peter, who prefers to command the gearshifts manually via the up/down buttons on the left side of the gear lever, says he’d flick it into second for taking off on a hill.
“Whatever gear you decide to pull off in, it’ll go back to that gear when you stop, so you have to be aware of the gear you’ll need to take off in,” he adds.
As is becoming increasingly common, a self-shifting box is the only option in the Shacman. It responds quickly and shifts smoothly in both manual and auto modes. There are four green lights in the mid-range of the rev counter, which light up successively to guide efficient driving.
“I’m still getting used to the auto, but I appreciate being able to shift it myself,” says Peter, who came out of a 350hp Fuso with 13-speed Roadranger. ”While I really enjoy a Roadranger, the auto does ease the task of driving around.”
The X3000s six mirrors are all very well-sized and positioned. “I like those; you can’t have enough mirrors,” Peter says [and we agree]. Indeed, the X3000 is easy to place on the road and manoeuvre, aided further by the good-quality rear-facing backup camera.
Braking is ABS with EBS, and a two-stage Jake Brake helps manage the pace of proceedings.
Safety and tech
Electronic and anti-lock braking are just the start of the safety and technology components Shacman has bundled into the X3000. Anti- skid regulation (ASR) and electronic stability control (ESC) ensure the truck is kept on the straight and narrow, while the diff-lock and power divider further help to keep momentum up when the ground beneath turns to dust. There are also standard tyre pressure monitoring and a lane-departure warning system (LDWS).
With work at the Manuwera East site done for the day, Peter has a few runs to make between the Stevenson Aggregates Drury quarry (Stevenson’s being another recent Shacman customer) and another residential build in Pukekohe. A couple of runs along Auckland’s Southern Motorway and some secondary roads reveal two things. First, the LDWS is useful and not overly sensitive – which is great as often the persistence of these systems can lead to drivers deactivating the system as part of their start-up procedure. “I don’t mind it in this,” says Peter.
Second, running at the maximum 90kph and 1450rpm, the X3000 is impressively quiet. Wind rush around the cab is unobtrusive, and the Cummins hums along softly. “You get a nice whistle from the turbo, but other than that, she’s quiet-as,” Peter comments, as we contemplate whether the front super-single tyres might have something to do with reducing road noise and adding to ride comfort. The air-suspended cab is ECE-R29 crash-test compliant.
All vehicles in the X3000 range feature a driver behaviour and fatigue monitoring system, consisting of an in-cab camera and a control module in the overhead. “The data is monitored by our facility in China, and we provide free coaching for one year based on the system. Thereafter, the operators can continue to use it themselves to manage their drivers,” Bobby explains.
Before I get the chance to ask Dabo about the system, he mentions it as one of the truck’s standout features. “The driver on our first unit was found to be a little bit rough on his truck, revving the cold engine, harsh acceleration. Weir printed a report for me to see the data, and I could discuss it with the driver. I’d be happy to pay for that; it’s a very good thing,” he says.
The system, along with the likes of the TPMS, integrates into the Shacman Telematics touchscreen infotainment system.
Entering the unknown
Having commenced operations in 2014 – with Dabo behind the wheel of a 1996 Nissan-Diesel and his wife Claire managing the office work – QEM has grown to 21 full-time employees and 14 subcontractors, concentrating on civil work and local aggregate delivery and dirt removal.
When the Nissan-Diesel started “getting old and costing money”, Dabo bought a 2006 Isuzu. Eventually, though, maintenance costs and standing time with that vehicle pushed him to buy his first new trucks; two 280hp and two 470hp Fusos. Five years later, the Fusos are still in the fleet.
“I like to grow step-by-step, replacing without finance. I’ll probably continue to buy to replace,” Dabo says as we talk about his decision to run the X3000s.
“When Weir first approached me, I wasn’t interested because other brands were established here, and Shacman didn’t have service or dealers at the time. He had to make me confident that there would be someone here to look after the truck if I bought it. Then, when the Shacman facility in Wiri was set up, I went to have a look and I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a try.’
“Before buying the first Shacman, I looked at other trucks on the market. I was straightforward; when I buy a truck, I do the research. Pricewise, there’s about a $30,000 to $40,000 difference, and a good thing is the reduced lead time in not having to wait for the body to be fitted once the truck arrived. I think Weir did well with his market research.”
Dabo says he gives Weir regular feedback about how the X3000s are performing. “The original unit had a few small problems, which I talked to Weir about. Our drivers are really good, taking time before and after work to go over the trucks and check everything is in order. As soon as we see something, we go back to Weir… I don’t want to see problems and the new one has had nothing so far. We’ve never had issues with maintenance or parts.”
In terms of fuel consumption, Dabo says the 440 X3000s average between 30 and 32l/100km (3.33 and 3.12km/l).
“I’m not saying Shacman is the best truck, but it works just like any truck,” Dabo says. “It’s the same with cars – you may drive a Toyota or a Ford, they’re all different, but a Toyota is just as good a car as a Ford. You just need to learn how it works and get used to it.”
Its early years but Shacman New Zealand has made steady progress, and its trucks are becoming more commonplace on the roads of the wider Auckland area.
As Dabo has done with QEM, it’s a slow-and-steady, step-by-step approach.
“We need feedback from the operators, even on the little things, which we take on board and pass on to the factory. The factory is very receptive even though New Zealand spec is not what they’re used to. But that goes for all OEMs; we’re high- demand and small volume. They’re getting their heads around it,” Bobby says.
As part of its response, Shacman has placed factory engineers onsite with Weir and Bobby for a year at a time.
Bobby explains that offering the same base spec and just adapting the wheelbase and body for the specific application is a strategy that’s worked well. “The more models we have, the more support we need to offer, so we wanted to first establish ourselves, the brand, before expanding on the product line,” he says. “We’re now offering a 560hp X3000 tractor unit, and before the end of the year, the 600hp Euro-6 X6000 should arrive. This is a big-cab tractor unit aimed at linehaul.”
Given the tracks the brand is making with the X3000 tipper and concrete models, it’ll be interesting to see how these do when they arrive.