In Top Truck, UD, September 20214 MinutesBy Craig McCauleyOctober 26, 2021

Over the past decade, New Zealanders’ appetite for developing property – and the infrastructure associated with it – has meant a noticeable increase in the country’s fleet of six-wheeler ‘gravel trucks’.

Kiwi contractors often come under one of two categories when it comes to the image portrayed by their equipment – those who prefer to keep their gear plain and fly under the radar and those who turn it into a spectacular visual canvas advertising their services.

This month’s Top Truck falls into the second category – a UD GW26-460 Quon furnished in the eye-catching gunmetal livery of Elite Excavations Marlborough Ltd.

Greg Robinson, and his wife Carol, operate the business from Kaituna, near Renwick, in the heart of grape country. They specialise in a mix of roading and drainage work, for their own business and as a sub-contractor to other operators.

Greg’s passion for earthmoving machinery as a youngster saw him follow his father’s footsteps into the industry, initially with TC Nicholls and latterly Mike Edridge Contracting, working his way up from machinery operation into a supervisory position.

After 13 years with Edridges, Greg decided to branch out on his own and, with the support of his wife Carol, formed Elite Excavations in 2017.

The operation now has five staff and runs a range of machinery, including five excavators, two loaders, two site dumpers, a grader and two road trucks.

Kenny Simmons drives the UD, undertaking a variety of work, including stockpiling and spreading aggregates and carting spoil away from under excavators.

Tare was a major consideration when the UD was purchased and this, combined with the brand’s European parentage, saw it edge out other brands. Greg explained the brand allowed the business to move into a truck with a “European feel”, while still being in the Japanese truck market.

A reasonable proportion of the UD’s time is spent working truck-only. However, the 460hp version of the Quon was chosen over the 420 as there was not much difference in cost or tare, and crystal-ball gazing. “It might future-proof our movements,” says Greg.

Transport Engineering Otago (TEO) of Mosgiel managed the truck’s build. A 5.1-metre long Hardox bin was fabricated with inbuilt Tiger Hook load anchors allowing most of Elite’s machines to be carried inside the bin while being restrained compliantly.

Kenny Simmons drives the UD.

TEO’s pin-less two-way tail-door system draws a lot of praise from the Elite team. No matter how much builds up around the rear of the bin due to discharging wet sticky material, the tail door will always shut without resistance. It is the best tip-deck available, in Greg’s opinion, and he can’t praise the TEO team enough for their top-quality work.

These features, along with rated tie-down rails, removable rear mudflaps, and a plethora of safety items, including LED lighting, reverse cameras and a handbrake alarm, make for a safe, versatile and operator-friendly unit.

Commercial Vehicle Centre supplied the UD. It runs the Euro-6-compliant GH11TD engine, producing 338kW (460hp) at 1800rpm and 2200Nm (1623 ft/lb) of torque at 1200rpm.

An ESCOT-VI 12 speed automated manual transmission turns the RTS2370A rear bogie, rated at 18,000kg, which rides on leaf springs. Bigfoot CTI is fitted to assist with traction in many of the off-road situations Kenny and the UD find themselves.

Passion, practicality and presentation combined make the Elite Excavations Marlborough Ltd UD Quon New Zealand Trucking magazine’s Top Truck for September 2021.