The PLA is equipped with a small number of the North Benz 2629A heavy duty truck built by North-Benz heavy-Duty Truck Co. Ltd, a joint venture formed by Inner-Mongolia First Machinery Group Corporation (FIRMACO) of Baotou, Inner-Mongolia; China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO); and DailmerChrysler. The truck is based on the Mercedes-Benz NG-80 truck originally introduced in the mid-1980s. The truck mainly serves as heavy cargo and weapon equipment carriers in the PLA.
China signed the agreement with Daimler-Benz (now DailmerChrysler) to co-produce Mercedes-Benz heavy-duty trucks locally under license in September 1988. The deal aimed to fulfil the growing demands for high-performance heavy-duty trucks from both military and civil sectors in China then. FIRMACO, a NORINCO subordinate company, was chosen as the main Chinese contractor. The actual technology transfer however took place at rather slow pace. The truck assembly line was not finished until 1995, and the joint venture Baotou North-Benz Group Corporation was only formed in 1996 for the marketing of the Chinese-built North-Benz truck.
Although the truck manufacturing facility at North Benz has the capacity to build 6,000 trucks per annum, the annual production of North-Benz truck has been around 500~600 trucks over the past few years, mainly due to its expensive prices and incompetent marketing. Early production variants of the truck still relied on some German-made parts. Following the end of the co-production agreement with DailmerChrysler in 2003, North-Benz continued to build the truck with 100% Chinese-made parts.
The PLA has received some limited numbers of the North-Benz 2629A heavy duty truck since the late 1990s, mainly for artillery towing and weapon/workshop carrier roles. The most notable deployment of the North-Benz truck is the road transportation line linking Tibet with inland Chinese provinces. The truck is said to be performing extremely well in the harsh weather and road conditions in the Tibet Highland (5,000m above sea level). The latest order was reported in 2005, when the PLA ordered an additional 1,500 trucks from North-Benz.
ND2629A truck being used as the chassis for the B-611 tactical missile system
The North-Benz 2629A truck has a two-door forward control cab with four seats. Some variants are fitted with a double-decked sleeping berth in the cab for long-distance travelling. If needed, the driving cab can be fitted with bullet-proof windscreen, wire mesh windscreen protection, and extra armour protections. The truck is available in 4X4, 6X6 and 8X8 configurations.
The truck is powered by a German Deutz 1013/1015 liquid-cooled turbocharged diesel engine rated at 220~480hp. Some variants are powered by a Deutz 513F air-cooled diesel for the use in northern desert and snow regions. The unique transmission and fuel designs guarantee the vehicle to function normally in temperature between -40°C and 50°C.
The vehicle’s German-designed gearbox has nine forward and one reverse gears. The three axles and six wheels all operate with speed differential locking devices, which ensure that the vehicle still has drive, even when one or more wheels on one side of the vehicle are not in contact with the ground, or have lost traction.
Last update: 13 February 2009