Armed with a remit of building vehicles for the world’s toughest jobs, TORSUS is looking to bridge the gap between off-highway personnel carriers and on-highway buses in the mining industry.
Having only entered this territory in 2017 with the launch of its first-generation PRAETORIAN off-road bus for a maximum of 35 people (including the driver), TORSUS is a relative newcomer, but it is adapting quickly to the whims of modern-day mining companies.
TORSUS leverages off its parent company, Pulsar Expo s.r.o, a Czech Republic-based entity with production facilities in Slovakia, while having partnerships in place with MAN and Volkswagen on key chassis and powertrain technology.
Vakhtang Dzhukashvili, CEO of TORSUS, explains how this combination results in a unique offering.
“We have come up with a product to meet the needs of the market by offering a standard all-terrain MAN chassis on our vehicles and robust Volkswagen powertrains with all the customisation options you need to make it robust, as well as comfortable for transporting personnel,” he said.
In terms of suspension, the PRAETORIAN, which was updated in 2021, benefits from leaf-spring with differential lock suspension on the front axle and air suspended suspension on the rear axle. It also has Michelin XZL 365/80 R20 tyres, two “comfort options” for seats, ground clearance of up to 400 mm and military-grade elastomeric panels. These are accompanied by a drivetrain warranty of up to six years, or 900,000 km, and a whole vehicle warranty of two years without mile limitation.
These 2.54-m-wide by 8.7-m-long vehicles have been proven in tourism transport applications taking people up Mount Etna in Italy – aided by a MAN six-cylinder diesel engine with 286 hp (213 kW) of power and 1,150 Nm of torque, as well as a heavy-duty 4×4 off-road transmission. This specification, in fact, means it can go up inclines as high as 65%.
Mining, defence and tourism are TORSUS’ major markets, each holding around 33% market share, according to Dzhukashvili.
“In mining, the PRAETORIAN presents a new option for companies looking to transport personnel on scale to site,” he says. “Instead of using multiple off-road personnel carriers to transport people to and from the off-grid mine site or – the other option – developing paved roads earlier in the development process, we can offer something to bridge the gap.”
One can imagine multi-mine operators in West Africa, for example, making the most of this by leveraging vehicles to transport personnel to site depending on the stage of development. The vehicle – which can also drive on-road – could then move to another site after paved roads are established.
Companies looking to transport fewer people to off-road operations may be interested in the TORSUS TERRASTORM. This vehicle has the same robust ideologies of the PRAETORIAN, but is equipped to transport up to 17 people (including the driver).
Both these vehicles have won admirers in the mining sector, with units already stationed at operations in Chile, Gabon, Ghana, Mali and Papua New Guinea.
Dzhukashvili expects more mining deployments in the future, as the wider industry acknowledges the niche the company is serving.
“With the backing of MAN and VW, and the ability to deliver customised options in-house, we have all the components needed to make these off-road buses robust, comfortable and long lasting,” he said. “Add to that worldwide support from the MAN and VW network, plus our own dealership base, and we’re convinced no-one can offer what we offer the mining business.”