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Emotive debate

8th June 1979, Page 34
8th June 1979
Page 34
Page 34, 8th June 1979 — Emotive debate
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

I REALLY cannot let the wild and inaccurate statements made by Mr Henebery (Dear Sir, CM, May '18) pass without comment.

Mr Henebery is, of course, entitled to his own opinion of our products but there is ample independent evidence to show that the current Leyland model range maintains a sharp competitive edge in the UK market.

As CM's Editor in his own comment to Mr Henebery's letter makes clear, unbiased road test reports published in the transport press show beyond doubt that Leyland has nothing to be ashamed of in the performance standards set by its trucks. These regular and penetrating assessments of comparative products, together with the undeniable evidence of the SMMT registration figures, tell a very different story then that painted by Mr Henebery.

Take the Leyland Super cab models. On a specificationto-specification basis, the Leyland trucks match anything that the serious contenders in the individual market sectors have to offer. The Super 'G' cab in particular offers probably the best in driving comfort that is currently available for this class of vehicle in the UK.

Moving up the weight range, though the design base has remained substantially unchanged, the introduction of the new TL11 engine provides the Ergomatic truck range with standards of performance, reliability and driver comfort that are fully competitive.

Road test reports published by CM and other transport publications within the past year about both the Buffalo 2 and Marathon 2 show that, rather than falling behind the performance achieved by foreign competitors, they frequently lead them. One of our major Scandinavian competitors is still smarting from test results showing how our -old" design

trounced his new model.

Sales figures, too, do not bear out Mr Henebery's arguments, Last year, 1978, SMMT registration figures show that Leylands accounted for 20 per cent of the total trucks sold. This, in what is acknowledged to be Europe's most competitive market, is not bad. Indeed several of those importers Mr Henebery so admires — the ones still struggling for a foot in the door after years of multimillion pound investments — would love to get even a tiny part of this business.

Leyland was also market leader in both the sixand, eight-wheeler fields, with the Leyland Clydesdale again claiming the lion's share of the important 16-tonner market. In the highly competitive 28-tonplus tractive unit market, Leyland took top position in the sector up to 245 bhp/35 tons, selling almost 1400 vehicles in 1978.

Leyland has spent the last few years making significant improvements across its whole model range to maintain its competitive position. At the same time our designers — acknowledged with envy to be world leaders in innovative technology — have been hard at work on a completely new model line-up which, we believe, will be world beaters in the 1980s. Naturally, therefore, we take great exception to Mr Henebery's totally unfounded (and uncalled-for) criticisms of our design team — who are far from "fighting a losing battle".

Backing this technological development is an investment programme unparalleled in the truck business. Three major projects — a new assembly hall, a new engineering centre and test track, and the complete modernisation of our central parts operation are already well underway and there is more to come.

Our parts division in particular has made significant strides over recent years and now the parts operation is generally reckoned to be one of the best in the business. Parts availability of up to 95 per cent is ahead of almost all our competitors, with a VOR system that is fast gaining a reputation for minimising downtime.

We are, of course, anxious to investigate any genuine parts problems which may occur and if Mr Henebery cares to write to me with specific details I will look into his particular difficulties — and solve them. I would also like to know on what basis Mr Henebery makes the sweeping statement that our distributors do not stock "the most basic and simple of spare parts".

Mr Edwardes, BL's chairman (whose remarks seem to have sparked off Mr Henebery's outburst in the first place) has many times had tough words for Britain's knocking brigade which regards Leyland as its prime target. I do not need to repeat them here.

Let is suffice for me to ask anyone in the truck business today to look at our record, our products and the new things happening at Leyland and make up their own minds.

Facts tell a very different story than impressions and memories.

An finally — just to show we bear no grudges — we would like to invite Mr Henebery to Leyland as our guest for the day, not only to let him see the progress we are making, but also to kill the myth that we are staffed by -dossers-.

IAN WILLSON, Leyland Vehicles Ltd, Leyland, Lancs.

Containers need space

THE ADVANTAGES of increased weights for container operators are argued by the FTA as a prime illustration of the alleged benefits of revised legislation on this matter.

I would like to suggest that the use of the international container as evidence is spurious in attempting to substantiate the case for increasing gvw.

The nature of many contE trades is dominated by w with a relatively high cubic tent, with weight being a se dary consideration. Thi reflected in shipping line tar Specifically, on the 1\1 Atlantic (a trade which by c parison to the Far East Australian trades is more he oriented to road transpor 20ft dry van container w( probably carry about 81/2 tor cargo and it is unlikely tIT 40ft box would (althoug could) carry double the cE content weight of a 20ft Indeed the demand for I' cubic units underlines again need for cubic capacity and weight.

One wonders whether in the case for higher weights be substantiated on the basi fuel savings, given the need more powerful tractive unit move the heavier trailing lc The rocketing price diminishing availability of dil fuel could be argued as a v reason for staying within existing weight limits.

P. N. MORTIMER, Southampton, Hants.

Abused by wheels

YOUR LETTER appears today's Financial Times (N 23). Turn to page 9 of the sa issue and look at the top hand vehicle in the Mercei ad. How would you like to hi a continuous stream of the fully laden, grinding and roar along your own quiet residen street all day long?

That is what we have to I up with as a result of a lo hospital extension and a lo hotel demolition.

Abuse like this, whi imposes environmental puni ment on ordinary people in -On private lives, is one very gc argument against even heaNd vehicles.

F. K. PEACHEY, Cheltenham, Glos.


Locations: Buffalo, Southampton

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