‘Batman’ truck is dark knight of Chile’s roads.
Heavy trucks are usually just a means of moving 80 tonnes from A to B. But transporting massive excavators thousands of kilometres along the Andean mountain range places extreme demands on hauliers, drivers and vehicles. That’s one reason why Chilean company Ecaval bought the very first R 730 truck in South America.
Painted with Batman, Heath Ledger as the Joker and other motifs from ‘The Dark Knight’ film, the V8 truck from Ecaval might be the most well-known one in Chile. Francisco Castro, Operations Manager and one of six Castro siblings who manage the family-owned transport company, knows and loves his superheroes.
“This truck, with its 730 horsepower engine, is very special, just as I think Batman is. And the colour of the truck reminded me instantly of the mood of the 2008 film,” he explains.
A growing need for V8
Compared with many countries in Europe, Scania’s V8 trucks are still a rare sight in South America. But the need for powerful and reliable engines is growing within several major industries. The northern part of Chile is home to some of the world’s largest mines, sandwiched between the Andean mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. Excavators, wheel-loaders and other mining equipment indispensable for the industry, are imported to the harbour of Valparaiso, 2,000 kilometres to the south in this very long, narrow country.
The only means of transport between the two points is the road, but as national legislation sets a 45-tonne limit for road transport, these nationally-important transports are restricted to the few hauliers that hold a special licence for considerably heavier transport assignments. Ecaval is one of them.
“We have a permit for road transports up to 80 tonnes,” says Castro.
Ecaval is a true family-owned company. It was started in 1965 by Francisco Castro’s father and is now jointly run by the four sons and two daughters.
“We grew up within the heavy transport business,” Castro says. “All of us were initiated into the company’s operations at the age of 15. Our company’s success is due to us being taught everything at an early age.”
Demolition, excavations and heavy transport operations for the Chilean construction industry are the core of Ecaval’s business. The long-distance transportation of mining machinery is a speciality.
“We can transport 80-tonne machines 2,000 kilometres to the north of the country for the copper mining industry. For these missions we need reliable trucks with strong engines. Our Scania trucks have never failed us.”
Ecaval also does heavy transports with engines that are not as strong, but in those cases they are not able to give customers the same guarantees of on-time deliveries, explains Castro.
“And despite the great distances in our oblong country, Scania has a network capable of servicing our vehicles everywhere. It’s the only brand that can manage to do so. Scania has 24/7 service for us and it always has an answer and a solution when we ask for it.”
The Chilean truck market is extremely competitive. No less than 28 truck brands from USA, Asia and Europe are fighting for a share of the market. Scania is doing well though, having finished in number two position in 2015 and 2016.
“Our strength here in Chile is that we own and develop our own sales and service network. That way we get much closer to our customers, with a service level none of our competitors can offer,” says Sebastián Figueroa, Managing Director for Scania Chile, echoing Francisco Castro’s earlier statement.
Castro is also full of praise for the financing offers from Scania.
“The credit options from Scania Finance really helped us to develop our business. The copper industry is so important to the country that when it slows down the whole economy gets affected, and we won’t get any help from other financial institutions. But Scania Finance understands our business and helps us to continue our investment.”
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