Owner of a freight company with several Ford F-Maxes: I was particularly surprised by their fuel efficiency.

The owner of a freight company with several Ford F-Max trucks, Willem Niinelaid, admits that it is very hard to say anything negative about these trucks: "if you think hard, you can come up with something, but overall, I am extremely satisfied with them. Their fuel efficiency particularly surprised me."

Niinelaid bought his first F-Max the day after reading in Logistics News that KB Auto Estonia would start selling new Ford trucks. "I read it on Thursday and by Friday, I was in Rummu. The main argument, of course, was the price, and the right truck was also immediately available on-site. Roughly speaking, you can get three Fords for the price of two 'market leaders', with just a little bit missing," says Niinelaid, who after his initial experiences went and bought another Ford.

Powerful engine, surprisingly low fuel consumption

By now, the first truck has covered nearly 150,000 km and the second 45,000 km. The trucks have a three-year warranty without mileage restrictions and a maintenance interval of 150,000 km. "So, the first one will soon go for its first maintenance, and the long maintenance interval is also an important cost-saving factor. What surprised me the most, however, was the fuel consumption of the Ford: the first truck averaged 24.6 l/100 km over 100,000 km. Most of that time, it was working in Italy, and the mountainous and traffic-heavy roads there are not phenomena that promote fuel economy. Even the engine, a powerful 500 hp 6-cylinder engine that handles every situation, would have been expected to consume more. This entire combination seriously surprised me," admits Niinelaid, who, with 30 years of experience as a 'truck man', personally breaks in all new trucks and all new contract jobs.

At the time of our conversation, he is himself at the wheel of a truck, starting a journey to Poland, where the company has recently started transporting talc from Estonia. "I couldn’t imagine not having a direct overview of the trucks, routes, loading locations, etc. Even just for that reason, so that no one could later come and cause any trouble," Niinelaid chuckles. This was also the case with both new Fords, with which the man himself first took longer trips.

Simplicity is the key

According to him, there is no significant difference between the two Fords, except for a few very specific technical details. "Surprisingly quiet and comfortable they are. The cabins have double insulation, and a very good feature is also the two stand heaters, dry and wet, the latter of which also warms the engine block. And it works extremely quietly. At first, I thought it wasn’t working at all," recalls Niinelaid, who also praises Ford’s three-stage electric power steering, which allows steering with one finger even when maneuvering on the loading yard. Also, various smart applications, which work very well, and also Ford’s ergonomics have a kind of simplicity. "I absolutely do not like various touchscreens and a sea of buttons, like some cars have. Ford is rather ascetic in this regard, everything necessary is available and very easy to use."

A particularly striking example, he says, was another truck brand that came only with rearview cameras and screens, with regular mirrors available only as expensive optional equipment. "I’m not saying those cameras are bad. They are inside the cabin, well observable around the truck when the curtains are drawn during breaks, very good. However, most drivers are older men who wear glasses. The trouble is that with glasses for far sight, you can't see the nearby screen clearly and it’s not feasible to put on reading glasses every time you need to reverse or just glance at the screen. This is not a joke at all, it’s a very real problem," Niinelaid acknowledges, noting that Ford does not have this "minus."

Narrow with minuses

So, what are the minuses of Ford? There can't be none. Niinelaid thinks for a long time and finally admits that there is indeed one issue: the truck does not allow adjusting the navigation device while driving. "I understand, safety etc., but if something goes wrong and there is a need to quickly change the route, you have to find a parking spot, which in traffic-dense Europe may not be an easy issue at all."

He thinks some more, but no more negatives come to mind. On the contrary. "One good thing I forgot to mention. The Ford has its hitch connections on the right side, which is the same side where the saddle is fastened. You might think, why should I walk around the truck, but from a safety standpoint, it’s absolutely the right approach. Especially when you have to do something standing by the road. It’s significantly safer to operate from the ditch side," says Niinelaid.

What other vehicles are in Niinelaid's company's fleet? "There aren’t many left. We had to give up ten trucks, 12 are left. At peak, there were 24, and almost all brands have passed through the fleet except IVECO. But there have been the most Mercedes," says Niinelaid, who sits at the wheel of a Renault during our conversation. The Fords are at that moment both "on assignment," one on its way to Italy, the other in Northern Finland.

"I’ve always said that owning a freight company is an expensive hobby and every cent and tiny detail plays a very important role in the end. But how do you find out about those details if you don’t try them out yourself," concludes Willem Niinelaid.

FTrucks OÜ, the importer of Ford Trucks, is part of the KB Auto Group. Find more information at www.fordtrucks.ee.