Dongfeng Trucks does it in style!
Visitors to the IAA are accustomed to seeing Europe’s latest and greatest trucks on display, but this year they also got a real surprise in the form of a display by Dongfeng. CHARLEEN CLARKE reports that the excitement generated by this Chinese brand was palpable.
Three things made the Dongfeng Trucks display stand out from the crowd. The most obvious, of course, was the fact that the company was new to the IAA – so visitors and members of the media swarmed all over the trucks.
The second was the fact that the Chinese culture formed an integral part of the display. Dongfeng Trucks is very proudly Chinese, and it embraces all things from that country. As such, the world’s media were treated to a kung fu display while visitors could have their names written in Chinese.
For me, the best thing about the stand, however, was the presence of the company’s president, Huang Gang (his Western name is Gary; that’s what everyone calls him … there is no standing on ceremony with this man). He is one of the most humble and nicest company presidents around. He even answers his emails personally!
It was clear that he was enormously proud of his company’s achievements – and understandably so. “Dongfeng Trucks is one of the leading truck brands in China. Furthermore, we have established a strong foothold in Southeast Asia and other strategic markets. Our strategy is to continue to open connections with new markets and to evaluate new business opportunities,” he told the world’s media.
Many of the journalists present knew little about Dongfeng Trucks – and so Gang took the opportunity to give a brief company overview. “We have our own research and development and production resources in China. We develop and manufacture all main truck components – such as engines, gearboxes, axles, cabs and chassis. Our total production capacity is approximately 200 000 trucks a year. The product range covers medium and heavy-duty trucks for local, regional and long-haul applications. We also participate in the construction and mining sectors,” he revealed.
There were obviously some question marks as to the company’s participation in the IAA, given that it doesn’t sell its products in Europe (and won’t do so for the conceivable future). Dongfeng Trucks is, however, certainly eyeing export markets.
“Looking to the future, our intention is to further accelerate spending on research and development. We want to deliver competitive products for the world market, backed up by an aftermarket structure in line with global customer expectations. Our participation at the IAA exhibition is part of our global ambition to grow the Dongfeng Trucks brand,” Gang announced.
Yet another way of growing brand awareness is the company’s participation in the Volvo Ocean Race (as you read this article, the boats are docking in Cape Town). “This is a tough and challenging race, which takes place over a nine-month period and around the world. We have chosen the Volvo Ocean Race since its values connect well with those of our business. It is a huge challenge and an exciting exercise for all of us.
“The Volvo Ocean Race will give Dongfeng Trucks exposure within key markets around the world. It will open doors to new markets, countries, people and businesses, which perfectly matches our global strategy,” he commented. Naturally, another advantage of participation is that it allows Dongfeng Trucks to cement its alliance with the Volvo Group …
Right now it wants to cement alliances with existing and potential customers, however, and, given its solid product range, there’s no reason to believe that this will not happen. On display at the IAA were the heavy-duty Dongfeng KL and medium-duty Dongfeng KR. These two vehicles are suited to regional/long-haul and local/regional distribution/construction respectively.
Top of the pops on the IAA stand, however, was the Dongfeng KX, the company’s new truck tractor for long-haul applications. This 6×4 is powered by a 13-litre, 313 kW (425 hp) Euro-5 engine. The Dongfeng KX is available with left-hand or right-hand drive.
“With this product we will expand our business to new areas and establish new connections with markets in Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and South America,” Gang revealed.
Next stop South Africa?