Bringing personal to commercial

The Jacobs Coffee mobile coffee shop built into a VW Crafter - a prime example of “mobile concepts”.

So you thought commercial vehicles were limited and boring? Think again. Builders, Angelo Kater, can make your company’s mobile dreams a reality.

Custom automobiles are more often associated with passenger cars than commercial vehicles. It’s a desire to make a vehicle extra special; an extension of a personal brand. As far as business is concerned, the most one usually sees is some standardised branding adorning the company fleet. But there is another, custom, way to extend a business brand – by physically taking it to meet the market.

Since 2001, the Angelo Kater business has been focussed strongly on taxi and bus conversions but, recently, a niche has opened up for what the company calls “mobile concepts”.

“The benefit of mobile concepts is brand awareness – plus the fact that the customer doesn’t have to come to you; you can go to the customer,” says general manager Annatjie van Heerden. “This is especially so in remote locations.”

Angelo Kater had two mobile concepts on display at last month’s Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS): a Jacobs Coffee mobile coffee shop built into a VW Crafter; and a Royal Baking Powder mobile kitchen built on a double-axle trailer.

Motorhomes are Angelo Kater’s latest venture. Requiring just a code 8 licence, the unit displayed attracted attention aplenty.Also on display at JIMS was a South African National Parks mobile clinic, fitted with a porta-potty, wash basin and an outdoor-facing plasma TV for AIDS awareness campaigns. This complements the company’s focus on the ambulance market, where its conversions have won many government tenders and provincial contracts.

CEO Kushi Adamou points out that taxi and bus conversions are still the company’s main focus, though, making up most of its conversions. These are traditional 22-seater taxis, and the order book was further boosted when the South African Football Association (SAFA) recently ordered 53 22-seater units for transporting teams and VIPs.

“Any vehicle can be built to the customers’ spec – the sky is the limit,” enthuses Adamou. Thus, the customer is heavily involved in the process.

Most of the components are made in-house, while additional content is also largely locally produced.

All conversions carry a one year warranty on workmanship, generally running concurrently with the standard OEM warranty. Custom builders must be granted a manufacturer’s letter of approval so that the vehicle can be tested by the SABS and homologated. A Natis number is then issued.

Additionally, Angelo Kater is ISO 9001:2008 certified, is audited regularly by Moody International, the SABS, and OEMs every so often. Adamou says this is the area where “fly-by-nighters” fail.

The company is also now venturing into the motorhome market, under licence to Burstner of Germany. The vehicle Angelo Kater is focusing on is built on a Fiat Ducato chassis – which Burstner feels is the best for the application. There are 10 different models with 48 different executions.

With a local market capacity of about 400 units a year, the motorhomes attracted great attention at JIMS. Further boosting appeal is that units under 3,5-tonnes only require a code 8 driver’s licence (ordinarily the Ducato would require a code 10).

Of course, all Angelo Kater products offer something special – the opportunity to extend your brand, whether it be for personal or business use.

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