Super trooper

CMME takes a look at Renault’s Sherpa which made its concept debut in Dubai in March.

CMME takes a look at Renault’s Sherpa which made its concept debut in Dubai in March.

Back in the 1970s, the US military unveiled a new plan to replace its big purpose-built utility vehicles, the Gama Goats and M151 series. Both vehicles had racked up impressive service records. The M151 which first entered service in the 1950s had been a mainstay of the US Army’s ground support fleet during the Korean War and later Vietnam.

The Gama Goat (Gama came from the name of the inventor of its powered articulated joint, Roger Gamount, and Goat for its mountain goat-like off-road ability) first broke out of the Project Agile programme started in 1959, and it too served with distinction even as the US faltered in its difficult conflict in Vietnam. By the mid-1970s the vehicles were in desperate need of replacing and the country instigated the Commercial Utility Cargo Vehicle or CUCV Program to provide a cheaper and more reliable fleet. Vehicles including the Dodge D Series and then Chevrolet C/Ks were drafted with several military modifications.

The vehicles which had five basic configurations; cargo, utility, ambulance, shelter carrier, and chassis were purchased in the late 1970s and early 1980s from Chrysler Corporation, Dodge Division, and in the mid 1980s from General Motors Chevrolet, and GMC Truck divisions. Later a new vehicle was added that would go on to be even more famous, the Hummer.

The first Hummers were built by AM General and created under a contract for the United States armed forces. The first model, the Humvee, was built in a variety of military-based equipment and versions. The S$1.2 billion contract won by AM General in 1983 was to produce 55,000 Humvees by 1985, which was later increased by 15,000 additional units. By 1989 the vehicles, made famous by the glut of action movies of the mid- to late-1980s were released commercially. With the first Gulf War beaming shots of them in action to the watching world madge the vehicle a surprise hit.

Today manufacturers are still looking to develop vehicles that have originated from military applications into the commercial vehicle and sports utility markets.

Among them is Renault’s Sherpa, the versatile full-time 4×4 vehicle can be adapted to multiple applications, was initially planned to be available in the Middle East in three models in 2012 – the Sherpa Scout for leisure buyers, the Sherpa Carrier pick-up truck for commercial use, and the fully armoured Sherpa Station Wagon used for transport purposes in high risk countries – although Renault have since decided to hold back on a full launch. However the machine will still be available for visitors at the upcoming Commercial Vehicles event held in Dubai this month. (Commercial Vehicles Middle East, taking place from 6-8 March at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.)

Renault began testing the first prototype Military Sherpa Truck in 2006 for more than two years in the toughest desert conditions of the Empty Quarter.

Marco Bonaveglio, Head of Marketing at Renault Trucks Middle East, said that the Sherpa Scout’s off-road capabilities make it unmatched as an all-wheel drive multi-terrain vehicle.

“With a ground clearance of 600mm, an approach angle of 40 degrees, and a centralised tire inflation system, the Sherpa Scout is capable of tackling the harshest and most difficult to access off-road terrain in the Middle East,” said Bonaveglio.

Measuring 5.43m long, 2.35m wide, and 2.1m high, the Sherpa Scout has ABS assisted four-wheel disc brakes, an automatic Allison gearbox, and can be fitted with racing seats and a dashboard to add contemporary styling to the functional and roomy cabin. It is not difficult to imagine both the leisure and commercial models find a niche in Dubai.

Bonaveglio added that the vehicle is ideal for hard to access locations such as oil and mining exploration sites, or a fully armored escort vehicle in volatile countries.

“The Sherpa Scout’s application adaptability means it can be targeted towards certain niche markets that are not easily catered to,” he added. “The Sherpa Carrier truck can transport up to twelve people, and the add-on armour capabilities of the Sherpa Station Wagon, including ballistic, hand grenades and anti-personnel devices provide a safe form of transport for diplomats and executives in high risk locations such as Iraq, while still capable of travelling at speeds of 110km/h.”

Renault Trucks will also showcase the 30 tonne GVW Kerax 6×6 heavy transport vehicle at Commercial Vehicles Middle East. Also built for off-road applications, the Kerax 6×6 is the official support vehicle for the Dakar rally in Argentina, and participated in the famous Renault Trucks expedition in 2009 between Cape North in Norway and Cape South in South Africa.

Continued Bonaveglio, “We will be using Commercial Vehicles Middle East as a key platform to showcase our capabilities as a manufacturer able of developing sophisticated trucks for every application and any kind of terrain.”

The Cape crusader
Crossing 17 countries, and driving 30.000 km in 120 days. The Cape to Cape rally is a test for men and machine. The Renault Sherpa passed the test. Crossing 17 countries, and driving 30.000 km in 120 days. The Cape to Cape rally is a test for men and machine. The Renault Sherpa passed the test.

Over 250 guests gathered for the Renault-Trucks Desert Adventure at Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa, to discover the complete Desert Range including Renault Trucks’ newest creation, the Sherpa.

Stefano Chmielewski, President and CEO of Renault Trucks said, “Renault Trucks has a long experience of manufacturing trucks specially adapted to the toughest desert conditions.

We have again recently proven the reliability of our trucks in the Cape to Cape Adventure, showing the capacity of our products in all conditions from North Cape, to Cape Town. ”

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