R-B wins EMI MoD contract
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• As predicted (CM 14-20 June) Reynolds-Boughton and Renault Truck Industries have won a £20m deal to supply the Ministry of Defence (MoD) with 846 two-tonne trucks.
The RB44 MkII, based on the Renault 50 Series chassis will be assembled at Renault's Dunstable plant. ReynoldsBoughton will supply the transfer box and axles to Dunstable before adding the bodies to the built-up chassis at its Amersham plant. At 5.3 tonnes GVW it offers twice the payload of the one-tonne Land Rovers it will replace in the MoD's Truck Utility Heavy (TUH) project: this will enable it to carry 15 troops or two loaded NATO pallets.
Delivery begins in December and will be completed by 1992.
The contract, which includes an option on another 160 vehicles, will be welcomed at Dunstable, where there has been intense speculation on the future of the Renault plant Dieter Merz, managing director of Renault Trucks, describes this as a "very significant order". Commenting on speculation over Dunstable's future he adds: "There were never any plans to close the Dunstable plant, with or without the Ministry of Defence contract," but there will be no expansion in the existing workforce.
The TUH saga dates back to 1984 when vehicle specifications were released by the MoD. Reynolds-Boughton supplied the first 4x4 RB44 for trials in September 1985. Other companies who tendered for the contract were Land Rover, Esarco and Stonefield.
In 1988 Reynolds-Boughton won the contract to supply 10 vehicles for validation trials. Various changes resulted, the most significant being the adoption of the Spicer T5-290 fivespeed manual gearbox in place of the Chrysler Torqueflite A727 three-speed automatic.
Managing director Stephen Boughton estimates that investment in the project has been around £1m; it is expected to result in an increase of around 10% in the workforce at the ReynoldsBoughton transmission factory.
Merz stresses that the Master-based B Series due to reach the UK later this year is not intended to replace the 50 Series, which was introduced in 1978. It currently accounts for 50% of Renault's Truck's UK sales, and both ReynoldsBoughton and Renault hope for increased civilian and military sales as a spin-off.
The TUH contract appears to have bought time for the ageing 50 Series, but its longterm future must be questionable once the B Series is established and the MoD contract is complete.