Having only been operational in South Africa since June 2011, FOTON TRUCKS SA is systematically expanding its local operation with a number of new models, dealers and services.
With a mere 15 years of development behind it – having been incorporated in August 1996 – but with product and service distribution in over 90 countries throughout the world, FOTON TRUCKS was a leader last year in terms of world sales volume with 680 000 units sold. Little wonder that FOTON TRUCKS SA is aiming to increase its market share substantially in the next five years.
Says Ismail Asmal, FOTON TRUCKS SA CEO, “It will be tough, but is do-able”. As Asmal notes, 2011 was a tough breakthrough year for the company, having to prove the need for a new brand and garner acceptance from the local operators.
As a sign of its commitment to growth over the next year, FOTON TRUCKS SA will expand its footprint from seven current dealers to 15, as well as the introduction of new models, these being a 6×4 tipper and 6×4 long wheelbase
14 tonner with 243 kW (330 hp) early in 2012. The much anticipated Cummins powered 323 kW (440 hp) 6×4 truck tractor will follow in the third quarter. Visitors to last year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show – especially operators from small to medium enterprises – showed great enthusiasm for the preview products.
Up to now the range has consisted of four models in the 3 to 8 tonne payload medium/heavy category. The entire range is backed by an industry-leading three-year/350 000 km warranty with 15 000 km service intervals.
FOTON TRUCKS SA’s technicians have travelled vast distances to carry out prescribed services on customers’ trucks. Combined with a 98% parts availability rate (and offering, should they not be in stock, to fly in items at no extra cost), the company is aiming to use its impressive after sales promise to achieve its growth objectives.
“Both sales and vehicle performance are up to expectation, especially as operating conditions here are similar to those in China, if not worse in some instances,” notes Asmal. FOTON trucks are continuously subjected to further development and under-go testing in extreme conditions. The company also follows a six-level “technology innovation system” for its research and development. This includes a national-level engineering research institute, European- based global R&D centres, domestic and overseas universities and research institutes, professional R&D institutes, secondary research institutes and supply chain synchronisation R&D.
However, with Cummins, Perkins and Weichai engines, ZF gearboxes, Bosch electronics and fuel injection systems, and WABCO braking systems, durability and reliability are a given. FOTON trucks are also developed in conjunction with Daimler-Benz of Germany.
Asmal points out that establishment in Zimbabwe and further expansion into Moçambique, is a reality having already supplied vehicles that are performing admirably.
“Chinese delegations that have visited our facilities have been briefed on our business approach and are suitably impressed,” says Asmal, adding, “they are excited and positive for the outlook and future of FOTON trucks in Southern Africa, and have provided exceptional back-up in terms of listening to our requirements regarding service and vehicle specifications.”
The year ahead? “We are quietly confident that our strategies for the introduction of this fine marque to South Africa have been the correct ones, always acknowledging that whilst trading conditions will probably remain conservative, there will be areas in which we operate that will, nevertheless, continue to expand,” concludes Asmal.