Hughcor, a Durban-based long-distance transport company, has taken delivery of its first DAF truck, citing performance, fuel efficiency and, more importantly, the ‘new’ Babcock backup regime behind the DAF brand, as central to the buying decision.

In trucking, like many other industrial disciplines, experience is the best teacher. For Hughcor owner, Ted Hughes, who has been in the trucking business since 1968, there is more to buying a new truck than just splashing the cash. In today’s operating conditions, he says, fuel efficiency is a principal factor in any trucker’s buying decision. However, this shouldn’t be at the expense of performance, which for him is critical in making light work of the challenging topography synonymous with South African roads.

To this end, on 25 February 2022, Hughcor took delivery of its first ever DAF truck, the new XF 480 model. Launched in March 2021, the new DAF XF 480 has shown an average 10% reduction in fuel consumption compared with the previous ranges, without sacrificing performance.

At the centre of the DAF XF 480’s powerful performance and fuel efficiency is the new Paccar MX-13 Euro engine that produces significantly more power and torque (up to 2,500 Nm on the 480 hp version) than the previous model. This is courtesy of a new common rail engine design with injection pressures of up to 2,500 bar (20% greater than before) and a compression ratio of 18,5:1, explains Alec Jackson, senior sales executive at Babcock’s Transport Solutions business.

Having previously driven a DAF truck as far back as 1985, Ted has always been impressed by the performance of the DAF offering. At the time, he recalls, although the truck was powered by a 430 hp engine, the torque was nowhere near that of the new generation of DAF trucks. However, he says, when pulling a fully loaded 49,7-tonne triaxle, the DAF truck would overtake any other truck on inclines such as the Van Reenen Pass, the notorious pass which winds its way through the Drakensberg mountains between Ladysmith and Harrismith along the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg.

“With its 480 hp engine producing 2,500 Nm of torque, the DAF XF 480 is extremely powerful. While all trucks should not go over 80 km/hour on South African roads, the increased speed going uphill and the safe retardation going downhill is what counts. The torque to get uphill at a reasonable speed allows us to make up for lost time on trips. Instead of the traditional 10-15 km/hour on inclines with older trucks, we can now do 50 km/hour with the newer models,” says Ted.

Apart from the performance and fuel efficiency of the truck, Ted has been impressed by DAF’s aftermarket regime in South Africa under Babcock’s stewardship over the past decade. “I have always had fond memories of the DAF truck I drove over 30 years ago, but the brand did not have the best of support in the country prior to the Babcock distributorship agreement. We have been impressed by Babcock’s aftermarket regime. We are happy to finally have a DAF truck in our fleet, and this is probably the first of more to come,” says Ted.

Key to success

Key to success in an industry as challenging as trucking, says Ted, is passion. He started trucking in 1968 in the United Kingdom (UK), with a single tipper. His first contract was with the largest limestone quarry in the world, Foster Yeoman. Eventually, he had up to 10 articulated trucks running throughout the UK and Europe at large, driving one himself. When he emigrated to South Africa in 1980, he worked for Zimbabwe-based Swift Transport, part of Unitrans, for three-and-a-half years, learning how the transport industry worked in this part of the world.

Hughcor was founded in January 2008, and today runs a sizeable fleet across the country. Despite being 75 this year, Hughes is still actively involved in the family business, working six days a week. “In this business, passion is principal, otherwise you won’t succeed,” he reiterates.

The success of Hughcor has also been down to the commitment and passion of Ted’s wife, Ruth, who is the operations manager. “Ruth is the ‘engine’ of the company. She works incredibly hard to get the loads and to ensure that our clients’ goods are delivered safely and on time,” says Ted.

Another member of the family who is involved in the business is Ted’s and Ruth’s daughter, 35-year-old Siobhan who, from a tender age of 10, has always exhibited her love for trucking. Ted recalls how Siobhan would accompany him on trips during school holidays. As an avid reader, she would spend most of her time on the passenger seat or lying down on the bunk, engrossed in her book.

Apart from reading books, she proved to be a great assistant to her father during trips, passing him coffee and food while he was driving. For Ted, who would spend most of the time away from his family during his truck driving days, travelling with Siobhan afforded him more time with her beloved daughter.

After attaining her Bachelor of Social Sciences, majoring in English and Media, Siobhan decided to join the family business, where she is in charge of accounts, human resources and diesel records. Ted believes Siobhan has diesel coursing through her veins and has earned her stripes in the transport industry. With her sharp eye on the tank, she is excited to have the first DAF in the fleet, which she believes will play a critical role in reducing the company’s fuel bill.