Cultivating relationships

Cultivating relationships

JACO DE KLERK fought off the tantalising smells of boerewors and the urge to put a bakkie through its paces on the 4×4 track at this year’s Nampo Harvest Day to focus on the stands and bring you this report …

The FOCUS team experienced what it would feel like to be a farmer when we left before the crack of dawn for this year’s annual Nampo Agricultural Trade Show, which took place from May 15 to 18 just outside Bothaville in the Free State. We were in a new Ford Ranger Double Cab – a vehicle that definitely inspires you to get your boer (farmer) on.

The three-hour trip left me feeling like die baas van die plaas (the boss of the farm), driving the 3,2-litre turbodiesel, with its five-cylinder engine that boasts 147 kW of power at 3 000 r/min and 470 Nm of torque from as low as 1 500 r/min. Turn to page 44 for our review of the 2,2-litre version.

We arrived in Bothaville and descended on the Nampo show – themed “Conserve tomorrow, act today” this year.

Isuzu Trucks SA shows just how boer (farmer) its trucks really are. Nampo has a proud heritage spanning 46 years, with a record number of visitors passing through its gates in 2011 – more than 73 000. This year’s show saw 71 723 attendees, a pinch less than last year, but a public holiday in 2011 no doubt contributed to that record-setting number.

This year’s event attracted a healthy number of local and international exhibitors though. With more than 670 static and mechanised stands, together with the show’s livestock section, there was something for everyone.

According to Lisa van Aswegen, customer care and marketing manager for Isuzu Trucks SA, Nampo is steadily attracting greater national and international interest, and therefore becoming more and more important to the agricultural industry. “Every year we meet farmers from all over,” she says. “The days of this show only being of interest to the Free State farming community are long gone. It gives the sector a platform to view everything required for their business under one roof, so to speak, and allows them to be exposed to new ideas and products as well.”

Keeping up with this trend, Isuzu Trucks showcased its F-series this year – with Nampo-style modifications. These models included an FX 26-360 with an increase in power to 265 kW and a multi-purpose farming body, an FTR 850 with a smoother automated manual transmission – also with a cattle body – and, as Van Aswegen puts it, the tried-and-trusted farmer favourite FVR 900 chassis cab.

Hino South Africa ploughs back into the farming community. “This has by far been the most successful Nampo for us as a manufacturer,” she says. “We signed 12 deals on the stand and are still signing deals generated from the interest at the show.” She explains that these responses from customers are one of the highlights for Isuzu Trucks, with the other being the suitability of its products to the agricultural sector. “A positive acceptance of the product is always very satisfying, and obviously the resulting sales are proof of this,” she says.

Ford marketing manager Gavin Golightly says Nampo has become a significant event on the company’s calendar as it attracts thousands of visitors. The brand got additional exposure with its eye-catching Ranger Wildtrak that was used as the official service vehicle for this year’s show.

The all-new Ford Ranger was a popular attraction at its stand, with various models displayed in all three body configurations – Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab. This bakkie made motoring history by becoming the first ever pick-up to achieve a maximum Five Star rating under the Euro NCAP crash test protocol, a strong selling point for the vehicle, and added reassurance for the FOCUS team that was grateful to  be able to use this terrific bakkie for the Nampo outing.

However, the Ranger wasn’t the only attraction at the Ford stand – South African rugby star Bismark Du Plessis visited the spot on Wednesday, May 16. He has a longstanding relationship with Ford; as brand ambassador for the marque, he can often be seen driving around Pretoria in a Ford Ranger of his own.

Nampo attendees peruse the stands to see what the show has to offer. Scania South Africa also used a person to lure people to its stand, but this was aimed at the journalists in the transport industry rather than the general public. The company used the show for a meet-and-greet opportunity with its new South African MD Steve Wagner, who has taken over from Christoffer Ljungner.

A number of Swedish Scania board members also joined Wagner at the stand for the brand’s star attraction. “We are launching our new engine platform exclusively here at Nampo today,” said Wagner. “South Africa is a key market for Scania, and our branch in Johannesburg is the hub for our main operations in southern Africa.”

The changeover to the global range of engines – which is used worldwide by the company for all emission standards, from Euro-3 to Euro-6 – started at Scania’s production units in South America in the second half of 2011. This year saw the modular system implemented in both South Africa and Europe. “We are not talking about major re-engineering, but continuous improvement based on proven technology,” explained Wagner.

With the new global engine platform, Scania’s customers gain access to a range of closely stepped power and torque ratings covering all imaginable heavy-duty truck applications. This new range consists of two models – a 9,3-litre five-cylinder and a 12,7-litre, replacing the previous 12-litre engine.

Volvo Trucks South Africa focused its   attention on the construction industry as well.The new range has various benefits; including a more robust design, improved torque and a more powerful engine brake. These engines can operate on up to 100 percent biodiesel as an optional extra, and are optimised for low engine revving, so as to use less fuel. “Fuel is of course an operator’s number one cost,” said Wagner. “Each percentage point improvement in fuel is worth R14 000 per year to an average transport operator.”

The Euro-3 engines are also able to run on fuel with high sulphur content, without risk of engine damage – making it ideal for the southern African market. There are units available at Euro-5 emission levels, demonstrating that this new platform enables Scania to provide engines to the global market.

After a long day walking through the stands and seeing what everyone had to offer, the FOCUS team got back into the boer-mobile and started talking about how Nampo really is the agricultural event of the year. Now we just have to wait another year, which will include a very cold winter, to see what the next show, taking place from May 14 to 17 in 2013, will have to offer.

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