Next moves for EHCV suppliers
More and more extra-heavy commercial vehicles (EHCVs) are being introduced into the South African market. WILLIAM GEORGE speaks to some local companies to find out what they have planned for the EHCV market
According to the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa), the local EHCV market saw sales of 1 232 in September; an increase from last year’s sales of 1 122 for the same period, while 38 units were exported.
Total sales from January to September amounted to 8 069, indicating a significant drop compared to sales of 8 966 for the same period last year.
This September, South Africa managed to limp out of the recession, with the gross domestic product (GDP) increasing at an annualised 2,5 percent in the second quarter, compared with a decline of 0,6 percent in the previous three months.
This was just the icing on the cake, following a fuel price increase of about ten percent and rating agencies Standard & Poors and Fitch downgrading the country in April.
Martin Dammann, product and support director at Truck Science, says that there has been an increase this year of three to five percent in costs of running an EHCV fleet.
Vehicle prices have increased by some five percent, while maintenance costs have remained much the same with longer service intervals and extended warranty periods.
MAN Automotive’s big plans
Dave van Graan, head of trucks sales at MAN Automotive South Africa, says that MAN was a slow starter in the first half of 2016, and came back strongly in the second half of the year.
“This strong momentum continued into 2017, where we are delighted that our market share has grown by
2,2 percent year on year in a very competitive market. This equates to a growth of more than 200 units sold by MAN in South Africa when comparing January to September 2017 with the equivalent period last year.”
MAN Automotive continues to offer customers a wide range of vehicles for specific operations, both in South Africa and abroad.
“On the local front, MAN Automotive is able to offer low-cost, budget as well as premium trucks to a wide range of customers. Our CLA, which is engineered in Germany and made in India, is a rugged and basic solution to supply to segments which are principle debt focused. Our Volkswagen (VW) Constellation, from MAN Latin America, competes directly with the premium Japanese brands in the value segments.
“Our TGM, TGS and TGX Trucknology brands are gaining a fan club of patrons in the premium segments of our market. We offer Euro-2 to Euro-6 products here – which are selected for customer-specific operations.” Van Graan says.
He continues: “On the global stage, MAN is part of the VW Truck & Bus stable. The three brands in this group are all tackling the megatrends of future transport with keen innovation. These global trends include diesel fuel optimisation, hybrid technologies as well as electro-mobility.
“In the world of digitalisation, mega-data management is integral to future logistics models. Being part of such a dynamic mega-group enables MAN to offer increasingly interesting technology, which is also suitable for the local market.
“Recent additions to our specifications are Euro-6 engines in operations that can guarantee stable 10 ppm sulphur content in their diesel fuel. Euro-5 technology has been on offer for quite some time now,” he notes.
Various safety features are also a priority to MAN, such as electronic braking system (EBS) and emergency braking assist (EBA), which are standard on certain product offerings.
EHCV buyers have various needs for their businesses and, in order to satisfy these, MAN promotes an ongoing communication channel. “Maintaining open communication with our customers is vital, and we promote this ethos throughout our business in order to ensure we do what needs to be done,” Van Graan adds.
“Companies look for transport solutions which enable them to delight their customers. Each company has its own experience and business model, and, consequently, we have to be very flexible as a supplier.
“MAN Automotive is an expert in the transport business. The entire team – from strategic planners to production, wholesale, retail and after-sales service – is fully dedicated to giving our customers exactly what they need to ensure their success,” he concludes.
Powerstar’s V3 ET ready for the long-haul market
Bob Wang, CEO of Ever Star Industries, says that, although the economic and political climate saw Powerstar EHCV sales decline, compared to the previous year, more diversification on product offering and new models can be expected, which will be brought into Powerstar’s existing range of trucks.
Powerstar launched the new V3 ET 2643 at the Automechanika trade fair, which was well received. “The vehicle attracted our target audience. The new V3 ET has encompassed a few upgraded components, which increased the vehicle’s capabilities, quality and reliability,” says Wang.
“The Powerstar V3 ET is now ready for the long-haul market, in which aftersales support is an absolute prerequisite,” Wang reiterates.
“We offer a range of efficient products that are suitable for any application. They are rugged and reliable workhorses. Customers look for affordability, reliability and total cost of ownership, along with the best technical and after-sales support. Additionally, they want the best value chain to suit their needs in terms of their application and, above all, brand value,” Wang concludes.
Read all about the V3 ET on page 6.
Tata to expand the Prima Range
Following the Automechanika trade fair, Tata plans to introduce more products to the EHCV segment. The executive director of Tata, Harneet Luther, says: “We are very excited as we are planning to expand the Tata Prima range, as well as introduce the Daewoo range of products.
“These products will be available in early 2018, and we expect them to have a significant presence in the marketplace by the second quarter of 2018.
“While we may see some improvement in the tipper segment in 2017, with the new product plans 2018 is going to be an exciting time for all of us.”
In order to ensure that its EHCV customers are content, Tata provides driver training to optimise the use of the vehicles. It also extends its aftersales support by engaging with its customers through personal interactions, as well as through customer-satisfaction surveys.
“We all understand that to ensure ongoing purchases we continuously need to improve the after-sales service offerings to customers. We are also working on improving the reach, continuous training of our network, improving coverage and ensuring higher availability of spare parts,” Luther concludes.
Finding the perfect EHCV for business
Dammann says that when businesses are looking to purchase an EHCV they should search for a professional dealer network that will be a business partner and will ensure that the vehicles can be serviced and maintained across the country.
“They should look for a manufacturer that will work with drivers and management to spec the right drivetrain in order to achieve the optimum productivity in terms of fuel consumption and average speeds for specific routes,” he says.
Dammann points out that a common trend in the EHCV segment is a shift towards automated manual transmissions (AMT), with a direct-drive top gear and a faster drive-axle ratio.
“Business should also look for a manufacturer that can supply cutting-edge safety features to reduce the risk of crashes. The vehicle should also have a reputation for a high resale value. Buyers should also choose a manufacturer that understands how the combination of utilisation, fuel consumption, maintenance costs and the vehicle price influence the total cost of ownership,” he concludes.