No frills no fuss
GAVIN MYERS chats to Powerstar’s Erwin Stolze following the company’s move to new premises and ahead of some exciting announcements at JIMS.
It’s been a hectic few months for the team at Powerstar. Between moving its head office to new premises, organising its presence at the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) and gearing up for the introduction of an exciting new model, one wonders how this small Chinese player manages to get on with the business of selling its vehicles and keeping customers happy.
Then again, to simply pass Powerstar off as a “small Chinese player” would be a mistake. Where some would buckle, Powerstar powers on.
“In the niche segment we’re playing in, we are performing very well because the trucks are built for that purpose,” says Erwin Stolze, marketing manager and dealer development at Powerstar. “It’s a rugged truck; it’s built simply; it’s basic technology. As most of our target markets lie in mines and construction, they don’t need all the fancy electronics and gizmos in their trucks. So we’re doing very well.
“We are proud to own the brand and the local name Powerstar implies that this is not a full import, but rather that we have improved on quality issues via the addition of local parts and components,” Stolze continues.
Rather than simply importing the trucks from Chinese parent company Beiben and putting them on sale, Powerstar brings semi-knocked down (SKD) units into South Africa, which are then sent to the Pietermaritzburg plant to be assembled and “Africanised”. The main changes are to the radiators and rubbers, all of which are local.
Stolze points out that the South African Powerstar operation is also able to offer a one-year/100 000 km full factory warranty, a one-year/100 000 km driveline main components warranty, a one-year warranty on body panel corrosion and a one-year warranty on parts and accessories fitted by authorised Powerstar dealers.
The business is run from Powerstar’s new head office in Centurion, Gauteng, adjacent to the N1 highway and close to most of the company’s customers in the northern mining areas. “There’s also the possibility that we will buy this building – it’s a long term decision,” Stolze states.
Beiben and its holding company, Norinco Motors, have therefore given Powerstar the whole of the SADC region in which to operate and establish a dealership network.
“Beiben is using our business in South Africa to springboard into Africa,” Stolze says. “You’ll still find customers in African countries who import directly from China without warranties and back-up. But more and more buyers are seeing that the trucks supplied through us are more suitable.
“The African market is definitely our focus; the trucks are ideally suited to it because in these conditions people aren’t always geared to take care of fancy vehicles,” he continues.
Powerstar currently has dealerships in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and soon in Mozambique. There are over 25 outlets in its South African network, including one located at the Centurion head office.
“Most people know us as ‘the tipper guys’, but we sell more than just tippers,” Stolze says emphatically. “We’ve sold units into various specialised applications, from scrap-metal handlers, through to bitumen distributors, skip loaders and waste compactors. Those kinds of applications are ideal for our trucks.
“Again, they are simple enough and suitable for applications where you don’t require fancy gizmos – just a strong, dependable truck.”
What’s in store, then, when Powerstar’s new long-hauler is unveiled at the Johannesburg International Motor Show in October?
“We understand that the long-haul operators need comfort in the cab and the electronics and such make it a very sophisticated game,” Stolze acknowledges. “The V3 is a completely new truck which is to be launched next year and, at JIMS, we want to showcase where we’re going and emphasise what Beiben is developing.”
FOCUS can confirm the new V3 is currently undergoing South African testing and homologation and that Powerstar will also showcase its facelifted cab for the current truck range at JIMS.
So, don’t miss out, because Powerstar is undeniably powering on.