Tatra Trucks, the oldest automotive factory in Central Europe, is a pioneer in making heavy-duty military, firefighting and rescue vehicles, and civilian vehicles, unrivalled in payload capacity and mobility and designed for off-road or mountain operation. Adam Dorazil, Project Manager, Tatra Trucks, speaks about their exclusive business terrains and prospects of expansion in the Middle East Asian market. Excerpts from an interview:
TATRA TRUCKS offers standard 2, 3, and 4-axle vehicles – frame chassis suitable for a montage of different commercial superstructures or with dump truck bodies. They are especially suitable for commercial vehicles operated in difficult off-road conditions.
Being the oldest automotive factory in Central Europe, Tatra has been a pioneer in making heavy-duty off-road vehicles and trucks for combined on/off road transport, which are constantly improved to meet increasing customer requirements. Where does the company stand globally and what are the major achievements?
At present, we focus exclusively on a niche market, which are heavy trucks capable of operating under any conditions. Military, firefighting and rescue vehicles, and civilian vehicles designed for off-road or mountain operation, able to meet clients’ needs without the use of complex electronic assistance systems. The contract for the supply of military vehicles to Western Europe and the Middle East or delivery of firefighting trucks to Western Europe belong to the most interesting new orders
Could you share with us Tatra’s participation highlights at the IDEX 2021 to be held in Abu Dhabi?How do you look at the Middle East Asia as a market for Tatra’s business expansion?
Tatra, together with its partner companies, will show a wide range of trucks and chassis. You will see 4×4 TATRA FORCE chassis and 8×8 truck with an armored cabin and crane at our stand. Other vehicles, such as self-propelled howitzer, recovery vehicle, and other trucks will be shown at our partners᾿ stands representing a wide range of our portfolio.
The Middle East is already for 30 years the second home for TATRA. Tatra has very strong partners in the Middle East area with a long-term relationship. More than 2 500 military vehicles have been sold. TATRA is very proud to achieve with their Middle East partners a high local content. There is no better place to apply our historical experience from the Dakar and TATRAs offroad capabilities.
The unique chassis concept of Tatra has been continuously improved since 1923 – and to this day successfully imitated by no one. Could you shed more light onto this?
The TATRA-concept was firstly used at TATRA T 11 car in 1923. The flat boxer air-cooled two-cylinder engine was firmly connected with the transmission which was connected to the rear axle via a large diameter pipe. The rear axle was of a swinging half axle type without universal joints. The pipe substituted chassis frame and covered drive shaft with differential. This unusual and progressive design of vehicles started a long tradition of unique automotive chassis design as “TATRA concept”. Such vehicleswere very simple, easy to operate, simple to maintain, and giving good fuel economy. An entirely new line of cars and trucks of various load-carrying capacities was based on this philosophy. In the production of more than 95 years, this concept is a true testament to the soundness of the original design.
Today TATRA truck chassis consisted of a torsionally rigid 3-D frame formed by connecting the backbone tube with a conventional ladder frame via cross-members and of independent swing half-axles, swinging around the backbone tube centerline. The central backbone tube covering all parts of the driveline. This design improving vehicle mobility in difficult terrain, while increasing stability during cornering and at high road speeds.
The vehicles have very high commonality, and many brands of engines and drive trains can be installed in them. Tatra’s air-cooled engines and purchased water-cooled engines from various manufacturers can be used and the engine outputs can be matched with mechanical or automatic transmissions of various brands.
For different loads, a different type of suspension is used.
In addition to standard soft cabins, armored cabins with different levels of protection can be installed in the FORCE family.
The standard chassis is available in a variety of wheelbase configurations and with up to eight axles, including rear-axle steering.
The special and military production of the company is represented by TATRA FORCE and TATRA TACTIC. What are the main products by the division and who all are the major clients?
TATRA Force is a High Mobility Heavy Duty chassis build as a platform for various kinds of special vehicles that need superior driveability in difficult terrain, transport troops or sensitive material over difficult terrain, and with low life cycle costs. The all-wheel-drive chassis employs independent suspension with the backbone tube frame, that allows each wheel to move independently. Thanks to a modular design TATRA can produce from 4×4 chassis up to 12×12 versions. There are more than 1200 vehicles used in the UAE army and hundreds of vehicles in KSA.
TATRA Tactic is a medium-class all-wheel drive off-road logistic truck with an excellent clearance that is based on standard chassis concept with rigid axles and ladder frame. The latest version was first interduced in 2019 on the IDEX show. More than 800 vehicles are under service in KSA.
What are the company’s products in civilian and commercial sectors? What are the customization options you offer to the customers?
Besides the special military vehicles, TATRA TRUCKS company offers standard 2, 3, and 4-axle vehicles – frame chassis suitable for a montage of different commercial superstructures or with dump truck bodies. Due to the unique design of the TATRA chassis that is used also on these vehicles, they are especially suitable for commercial vehicles operated in difficult off-road conditions.
Apart from the above said standard vehicles, TATRA TRUCKS offers customers also special customized solutions. For example 5 or more-axle customized vehicles – which are suitable especially for large mobile cranes and/or other exceptional commercial superstructures.
How did the company survive the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic? What are the goals to be achieved in the post-pandemic days?
The Covid-19 pandemic had no major impact on the company’s operations or results in 2020. Production ran without stopping, we only had to adjust the production plans according to the possibilities of our suppliers. As for this year’s targets, we are ready for both alternatives, lower market demand, as well as its rapid recovery. Of course, we are working intensively to make this year even more successful than the previous one