With the support of its holding company, Babcock, the DAF brand is on a continual rise in the South African market. Things look to be no different in 2014.
For the majority of our industry, 2013 was a good year. The market performed better than expected; the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) once again delivered the goods and opportunities were forthcoming for companies to grow customer relations, dealer performances and business in general. With 2013 still fresh in our minds, 2014 lies ahead – its potential challenges and triumphs waiting.
One company that is ready to tackle the year ahead and carry forward its momentum from 2013 is Babcock DAF. Internationally, the company remained Europe’s market leader in truck tractor sales and was voted the 2013 Fleet Truck of the Year in London for the fifth time in the past six years. It also launched its Euro-6 range of trucks, while Paccar opened a new $320 million (R3,307 billion) DAF facility in Brazil.
DAF is proud that the Paccar engine does not require low sulphur diesel to meet Euro-5 specifications – the company having already successfully sold Euro-5-compliant vehicles to local customers. With Sasol’s recent introduction of 10 ppm ultra-low sulphur diesel, Euro-6-compliant DAF models could be a possibility, but only after undergoing an approved testing programme for South African conditions.
On local soil it was a rosy year as well, as Wilna Steyn, chief financial officer for the Babcock International Group in Africa, says: “Babcock DAF had a good 2013, gaining new DAF customers as well as consolidating all the infrastructure requirements for the DAF product in South Africa. We also opened our Durban and Middelburg branches.”
Steyn, however, cannot single out just one highlight … There was the renewal of the Reinhardt Transport Group fleet (for which DAF supplied 120 vehicles), the aforementioned opening of the Durban and Middelburg dealerships and a drastic increase in parts and unit sales to new customers. Steyn is also proud that the company initiated its artisan programme and trained 98 technicians and more than 100 new drivers. Encouragingly, the value of secondhand DAF vehicles increased due to local support, workshops and trained staff to support older generation trucks.
Of course, Steyn notes, the DAF team was also impressed by JIMS 2013 and used the show to unveil some innovative customer solutions. “We used JIMS to launch the DAF Advanced Transport Efficiency, or ATe, programme,” she explains. “This programme provides a full range of solutions that enhance the overall transport performance of DAF vehicles, while reducing their environmental impact and operational costs.”
Steyn says that the show was well attended by local and cross-border DAF customers. It gave the company an ideal opportunity to meet new customers and showcase its products. “We saw a big increase in terms of customers visiting our stand compared to 2011. The cutaway cab was a definite crowd puller,” she smiles.
Already, it’s clear that the company has its foundations set for a positive 2014. “Operators can expect Babcock to continue its high level of service excellence, unwavering support of the DAF product as well as tailor-made transport solutions,” Steyn reveals.
“We expect that the extra-heavy truck market will be fairly consistent compared with 2013, as the market comes to terms with the deterioration of the rand by more than 25 percent against most of the major currencies in the past year. Babcock DAF will continue its strategic growth targets for the year with a combination of new customers and fleet renewals by existing customers,” she continues.
Naturally, DAF is continuing its long-term drive for a 10 percent market share in the local extra-heavy truck tractor market. Steyn assures that the company is still on target with its market development plan to achieve this goal. “Investing in infrastructure is the most important requirement for achieving this goal,” she explains. “Our infrastructure is now complete and we can grow from this base to achieve a 10 percent market share. The Babcock service culture of ‘Trusted to Deliver’ has been proven in the industry – the renewal of the Reinhardt fleet is testament of our commitment to service excellence,” she notes.
It seems that, for DAF, 2014’s potential triumphs could far outweigh its challenges.