New Tata Ultra: World-class allrounder

New Tata Ultra: World-class allrounder

Tata Motors recently launched its new generation Ultra smart truck range in South Africa. ROWAN WATT-PRINGLE reports that customers are already benefitting from the two versatile models, with the Ultra T.9 and T.14 boosting profitability in a range of applications.

The commercial launch of the multipurpose heavy duty Ultra range was announced by Tata Motors and its local distributor, Tata Africa Holdings Limited (Tata Africa), which is responsible for the retail and after-sales service of Tata trucks and buses on the continent. This further bolsters the local market presence of India’s leading multinational automobile manufacturer, with vehicles built on a customer requirement basis.

The Ultra T.9 and T.14 were designed to meet the growing need for safer, smarter, and greener cargo mobility, catering to the diverse and evolving needs of a progressive customer base, and incorporating class-leading features, reliability, comfort, and safety.

“Tata Motors is driven by its purpose of connecting (the) aspirations of its customers. For fleet owners, we are committed to delivering higher return on asset utilisation through smarter products and after-sales services,” said Anurag Mehrotra, head – international business, Tata Motors Commercial Vehicles, at the launch.

Managing director of Tata Africa, Len Brand, was visibly thrilled to announce the addition of the Ultra trucks to Tata’s South African lineup. “This introduction aligns seamlessly with our commitment as a partner to Tata Motors and their vision for South Africa. The addition of these innovative products to the South African transport sector serves as a catalyst in our ongoing efforts to secure a more significant market share in South Africa,” he enthused. “We are excited about the potential these new offerings bring and the positive impact they will have on our presence in the region.”

The Ultra range is engineered to deliver high productivity. Powered by Tata Motors’ globally proven Euro IV turbocharged diesel engines with six-speed transmission, the Ultra T.9 (powered by the 3.3-litre version) and T.14 (with the 5.0-litre engine) offer best-in-class power and torque output, and best-in-class fuel efficiency. This combines to deliver lower total cost of ownership (TCO) across a diverse array of logistics applications.

Reliable partners deliver every time

A wide range of local customers are already raving about the performance of the trucks, as well as praising the commitment of Tata to its customer base, with reliability, profitability, and a sense of true partnership being key.

Noel and Anne Thomson, owners of truck rental company Scimitar Logistics, recently took delivery of five new Ultra T.14s. “I’m very happy with Tata – they’ve been good to us, and our customers are happy with them; they’re family-orientated,” says Anne. “It was a no-brainer to go with Tata, really, because they fit in a more economical bracket, so you’re able to offer cheaper rental,” adds Noel. “Fuel consumption is very low, we service cheaper… we do everythingmore economical, but with the satisfaction of knowing that these trucks take a lot of abuse, and they just carry on going.”

Chris and Hardus Helm, owners of delivery company CH Express, echo these sentiments. “We’ve got 10 vehicles on the road doing about 1,000km a day, five days a week, so the vehicle(s) must be reliable, strong enough, and do it efficiently,” emphasise the father-son duo.

“We had another brand of vehicle; we had some problems with their product… We bought our first Tata in 2017… we’ve got the newer model now (the Ultra T.14) and we’re quite chuffed with the fuel consumption,” says Hardus, as his father chimes in: “We have a saving of about R500 a day – it’s quite a lot of money that you have in your pocket!”

Terence Smith, company director, Good Earth Group, says that turning to Tata was the best business decision he ever made. “When I bought my very first Tata… I had a bit of scepticism,” he admits, “(but) I’ve got this burning desire inside of me to take a chance. I always say it was divine intervention… that decision has given me the growth to where I find myself currently. If I was Tata, my slogan would be ‘Tata Trucks: we deliver’, because they deliver: literally and figuratively.”

Workhorses you can count on

These robust vehicles easily carry heavy loads over long distances and rough terrain, making them the perfect fit for operations across the local transport and logistics industry, from conventional delivery services to specialist services like bakery, FMCG, white goods, agriculture, and construction.

“We run about 120 vehicles nationally; we do deliveries from distribution centres to stores and from stores through to the customer. We move tiles and tile cement, which are very heavy: it’s fragile, and very expensive,” says Smith. “Since 2014 we have purchased in excess of 600 vehicles, and we run every single derivative of Tata vehicles. The brand is robust, fuel efficient, (and) affordable. It offers comfort, but more importantly it can do the job.”

This kind of reliability can be a life-and-death differentiator. “War waits for no man, so if there’s a situation (where) people need vehicles to protect their people, if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, people will die,” stresses Hannes Vorster, co-owner of armoured vehicle manufacturer Integrated Convoy Protection (ICP), which delivers to the private security sector.

“We chose REVA as the brand name for our vehicle, (which) stands for Reliable, Effective, Versatile, and Affordable. Tata offers us affordability and reliability… we use the Tata Ultra T.9 for the performance, in terms of speed and fuel efficiency,” says ICP co-owner Nadine Rynners. “Tata was the best fit for the vehicles we manufacture. Our clients are mostly international – some of them in remote areas. Tata supporting those vehicles in different countries has been phenomenal.” 

Genuine allrounders are indispensable

Kallis, Pollock, Procter, Klusener, Rice… any South African cricket supporter will tell you a world-class allrounder is worth their weight in gold. The Tata Ultra brings this Midas touch to the local commercial vehicle market. “Our trucks are engineered to cater to a diverse set of applications, delivering higher vehicle utilisation and more revenues… for drivers, we’re ensuring we deliver a safe and comfortable drive so that their productivity is higher,” noted Mehrotra at the launch. This comfort has not gone unnoticed. “I drive that vehicle myself – you can’t believe it’s an eight-tonne vehicle… it feels like a car,” enthuses CH Express’ Chris Helm.

Featuring a crash-tested walk-through cabin, power steering, dashboard-mounted gear lever, booster assisted clutch, and mechanically suspended seat for safe and fatigue-free driving, the Ultra range looks set to become a fan favourite, like SA’s cricketing legends.

Some allrounders are better adapted to the limited overs game, while others thrive in the rigour of five-day test cricket. It is no different for the Ultra: the T.9 is best-suited to short-haul and city cargo transportation needs, while the T.14 excels in long-haul transportation, delivering that much-sought-after best-in-class fuel efficiency, faster turnaround times, and proven reliability.

The compact design of the T.9 makes it easier to drive and park in urban and semi-urban environments. “To operate smoothly, we must make sure that the trucks run all the time. That was one of the main reasons why we started to move over to Tata with the new T9,” says Michal de Wet, owner of Cosmetic Connection. “It can take a big load as well, and then (there’s the) fuel economy… it’s a lekker small truck. Our stores are on the streets and it’s easy to manoeuvre.”

Levelling up customer support

Tata prides itself on fantastic customer support and after-sales service. “With a robust network of 90 touchpoints, we’re focused on providing convenient and comprehensive customer support. Our dedication to delivering on our uptime promise remains strong. We assure our customers of complete satisfaction as we work to keep their businesses moving forward,” says Brand. “In partnership with Tata Motors, we’re contributing to innovation and reliability in the South African commercial vehicle landscape.”

A suite of holistic vehicle lifecycle management solutions includes annual maintenance contracts, 20,000-km service intervals, a best-in-market five-year/500,000-km vehicle warranty and extended warranty options, fleet management services, and various value-adds. Coupled with easy vehicle financing and curated repayment options, this offers peace of mind and higher profitability. The vehicles come with three free years of fleet management and Cartrack tracking from Tata Motors’ flagship connected vehicle system, Fleet Edge, further increasing productivity.

“The launch of the Ultra range marks another milestone in realising our product promise of safer, smarter, and greener mobility solutions. We are committed to enabling our customers in South Africa to succeed. The launch of this Ultra range is a significant step forward in fulfilling this commitment,” asserted Mehrotra.

The strategy is clearly paying dividends. “The relationship with Tata is very tight. If there’s an issue… we give the Tata team a call and our trucks are back on the road within two to four hours,” says De Wet.

“In the 19 years that we have had a relationship with them, we came together to support each other, as opposed to just being a supplier,” agrees ICP’s Rynners. “Tata is offering us one product, which makes it more cost-effective and easier to maintain, and that’s a big selling point from us to our clients.”

Good Earth Group’s Smith perhaps best sums up customer sentiment: “We will continue to support the brand because the brand supports us – it’s a mutually beneficial relationship. I get that fulfilment from my people and the look in their eyes. We’re proud and patriotic about the Tata brand. I’m very grateful and I count my blessings.”

Technical specifications


Ultra T.9

Ultra T.14

Key dimensions and weights

Vehicle dimensions (l*w*h)

7,058 x 2,204 x 2,469

9,400 x 2,440 x 2,625

Gross vehicle weight (kg)



Kerb weight (kg)



Payload (kg)



Wheelbase (mm)



Technical specifications

Engine (cc)



Max. power (kW @ r/min)

114 @ 2,600

132 @ 2,400

Max. torque (Nm @ r/min)

450 @ 1,400 – 2,200

590 @ 1,000 – 2,000

Max. speed (km/h)




Single plate dry friction type booster assisted

Single plate dry friction type

Gearbox and type

G 550 Manual

GBS 750 6F+1R Synchromesh


Integrated hydraulic power

Integrated hydraulic power

Brakes (front and rear)

Drum type

Drum type

Suspension (front)

Parabolic springs

Parabolic springs

Suspension (rear)

Semi-elliptical, with semi-elliptical aux spring

Semi-elliptical, with parabolic aux spring

Shock absorbers

Telescopic double acting (front and rear)




275/80R22.5 Tubeless

Fuel tank (litres)



Max. gradeability (%)



Published by

Rowan Watt-Pringle

ROWAN WATT-PRINGLE is editor of the Transport Manager's Handbook. He also works as a freelance writer, editor, and sub-editor predominantly in the transport, non-profit, and environmental sectors.
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