Chinese truck rides on ‘Build, build, build’ infra overdrive
It goes without saying that the “golden age of infrastructure” that President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team is helping usher in during the next five or six years by allotting as much as P8.4 trillion for vital projects such as airports, roads, bridges, railways, seaports, telecommunication and power facilities, will also tow in a revived Philippine trucking industry.
Thus, it’s quite evident that the “Build, build, build” mantra of the administration has been echoed by the “Move, move, move!” battlecry of the numerous haulers and loaders plying the roads.
Noticeably, many of these trucks not only have Japanese or European badges, but a growing number of them are Chinese-branded and, mind you, are brand new.
During an April 2017 truck fest organized by Isuzu Philippines Corp., its president Hajime Koso revealed the “tremendous growth in the sales of trucks and buses during the past few years, with an average growth rate of 13 percent.”
Duterte himself has encouraged closer business ties with mainland China. Naturally, Chinese business has responded in kind.
One of these Chinese businesses in the trucking sector has jumped on the opportunity opened up by the country’s newfound fervor in construction, and it goes by the name of Chenglong.
“If you’re building a country, you will need good equipment that is reasonably priced,” said Ricardo Chua, chairman of StoneBrothers Inc., the exclusive Philippine distributor of Chenglong trucks, during the Aug. 11 inauguration of StoneBrothers Inc.’s showroom and dealership along Edsa in Balintawak, Quezon City.
“Chenglong trucks will become a vital trucking brand in the country. I have seen for myself how Chinese-branded trucks have become accepted here. On the Roxas Boulevard route, I have counted 8 out of 10 trucks made in China.”
The only main obstacle Chua sees that hounds Chinese-made trucks is the availability of spare parts.
Hence, the opening of the Balintawak dealership, and with the hands-on management of his son Richardson Chua, Chenglong parts and services will be extended to many other parts of the country.
Chua also belittles Chenglong’s seeming obscurity in Metro Manila. “Chenglong trucks can be seen mostly in the country’s frontiers, in mine sites in Mindanao, Surigao, and Palawan carrying aggregates and other materials in difficult terrains and construction sites in the countryside. Chenglong trucks have been proven to be strong and durable in all these difficult routes,” he stressed.
“To strengthen our staff capabilities, they have undergone training in the Chenglong factory in China. Technical personnel from China have also been assigned to monitor our spare parts in Manila,” disclosed Chua.
The younger Chua, GM of StoneBrothers, said that Chenglong trucks are well-adapted to the natural and man-made conditions of the Philippines: “From the waterbreak system to combat our warm climate, to the mixer lift lines to make sure we do not hit low-hanging wires in the cities, there is no detail that hasn’t been considered.”
Chenglong has also innovated its truck manufacturing facilities for the company to be able to roll out some of the hardiest trucks China has ever produced.
“Our assembly facilities include a 6,300-ton presser, the only one in Asia. Whereas other companies bend their truck chassis separately, then combine them, we use the presser to bend and fuse them completely at the same time. This eliminates any crevices or imperfections that might serve as entrance points for water or other corrosive substances.”
Richardson also disclosed that Chenglong uses a five-layer coating system to make sure that the truck will not rust even after years in service.
A recent fuel efficiency competition in Vietnam showed Chenglong placing first. “It only needed 28.9 liters to travel 100 km. Imagine that. That’s close to a first-rate 4×4 SUV,” said Richardson.
The keel structure design of the Chenglong truck, otherwise known as the “dragon bone,” ensures one of the safest truck cabins in the market today.
“No less than the Eiffel Tower and the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium use the same structural design,” said Richardson.
Chenglong delivered its first units to the Philippines in 2008. Since then, over 4,000 units have been sold.