For its final stage through the land of the Tsars, Renault Trucks’ Cape-to-Cape expedition stuck camp on Monday March 16th in Voronej before going out to meet its customers and some secondary school children in the South-West of the country. Now out of Russia, the Cape-to-Cape expedition will be conforming to Ukrainian culture at a gala evening in honour of its members held at the Kiev Exhibition Park. But before that, the convoy had to wait over 24 hours on the border between Russia and the Ukraine.
Final Russian staging post: Voronej. A commercial town 600 km from Moscow, Voronej is at the strategic crossroads of the road network of the South-West of Russia. For Guillaume Zimmermann, Renault Trucks’ Director in Russia, the South and South-West of Russia are “two strategic regions in for sales network development”. And he continues “Sergey Donskikh, Director of Doka, our local distributor, is a new partner who is moving forward with great intent”. “Renault Trucks”, answers Sergey Donskikh “is working in Russia in a real spirit of partnership and seems to be able to take our needs on board”. Amongst the arguments which won him over was development and well-controlled, well-spaced investment. With 15 years’ experience in industrial equipment, Sergey Donskikh has the first workshop within a 200 km radius with a high-capacity breakdown and towing truck for HGVs based on the Kerax 8x4. This is a good indication that its reputation and turnover, along with that of Renault Trucks in the region, will grow.
The Voronej stage is an opportunity for the members of the Cape-to-Cape expedition to attend another event: one with technical college students where the team will be spending the morning before ending the day with a gala evening with some of Renault Trucks’ Russian customers.
On Tuesday 17th, after a final Russian stage, the Cape-to-Cape convoy set off again towards the Ukraine. On Wednesday 18th, around 10am (local time) the convoy arrived at the border between the two countries. It was only to leave the next day in mid-afternoon! The drivers just had to be patient. The wait was a long one… During that time, the Sherpas once again showed their drawing power: a flock of customs officers attracted by the unusual proportions of the two trucks, gave them a thorough going over out of pure curiosity.
In the evening, Cape-to-Cape received a warm welcome from Renault Trucks Ukraine guests and helped pass this bitter pill of that long fastidious rite of passage over the border. It was to the Kiev Exhibition Park that Renault Trucks Ukraine had invited over 400 people (journalists, customers, prospects, dealers, local and national authorities). For the Renault Trucks subsidiary and its superb Kiev facility, this was a big day indeed. The number of Renault Trucks vehicles on the road in the Ukraine is significant; for them it was essential to capitalise on the brand’s well-established reputation for longevity in this country. The Cape-to-Cape expedition comes at a perfect time to illustrate this point.
The Ukraine is continually looking towards the European Union, hoping for membership, whilst remaining very close to its Russian neighbour. Here more than in Russia, the respect of the Euro norms is strategic for hauliers which is useful to European manufacturers, but makes competition all that much tougher.
Although not very well know as a country, in terms of surface area, Ukraine is the second biggest in continental Europe. In school children’s minds, it is reputed for being the “corn warehouse” of the ex-USSR. Today, the country maintains a very substantial agricultural tradition, reflected in the colours of its flag. This tradition is also evident in the country’s cuisine. The contrast between the country areas and metropolitan centres (including Kiev, the capital, but also Lvov and the famous port of Odessa) is quite remarkable. The country has been divided into two zones of cultural influence since independence in 1991: one Russian-based, to the East of the country and the other Lithuanian / Polish to the West, a throw-back to the 14th century. Hence Cyrillic text and Latin inscriptions on the route and the roads through which the Cape-to-Cape expedition passes.