UD COE tanker

The overpowering Japanese yen, currently so strong against other currencies that Japanese automakers are calling on their government to do something about it, has claimed a victim in UD trucks' North American operations (UDNA).

A decline in UD market share over the past few years has been further troubled by the strength of the currency, which caused the price of the trucks to climb above that of the competition. The president of UDNA notified dealers by letter that the 300 or so trucks remaining in inventory will be sold and that orders could be placed for 2013-model-year vehicles until October 15, but production capacity was limited and orders would be built on a first-come first-serve basis.

The move puts an end to 27 years of medium-duty cab over engine (COE) haulers from the company, begun when Nissan Diesel America set up shop here in 1984 to sell its Uniflow Diesel-powered trucks. UDNA was hit especially hard by the financial crisis, and importing its trucks from Japan meant its offerings carried five-digit price premiums over rival trucks; two comparisons yielded differences of $11,000 and $18,000 in favor of competitors.

UDNA's move comes toward the end of a long retreat of Japanese truck makers from the North American COE market. The remaining players in COE Classes 6 and 7 are Kenworth and Peterbilt, but their trucks are rebranded vehicles made by a European company and built in Mexico. As for UDNA truck owners, the president did state that warranty and parts service will not be affected by the departure.