Powerstar locks into top gear
Following its arrival in South Africa in 2006, Powerstar has become a recognised brand in the heavy-duty sector of truck transport in South Africa, offering a unique combination of German automotive technology and Chinese affordability.
Manufactured in China, Powerstar trucks are making a name for themselves in this country as “no-nonsense” workhorses, built to handle the toughest conditions Africa can hurl at them.
Four years down the line, Powerstar has come of age, with a new management structure taking over from Super Group as of August 2010. Now owned by a consortium that includes the Chinese OEM, BeiBen (manufacturer of Powerstar trucks), with Super Group as a minority shareholder, Powerstar has the full backing of its Asian principal, bringing the necessary capital into the local operation to ensure vehicle assembly, sales and support functions have everything needed to keep customers happy.
Says Frans Cloete, president and executive officer, Powerstar, “Our experience in the local market since 2006 has been invaluable and all areas of weakness have been addressed, particularly those concerning customer support. The new ownership has put us in a position where we are now capitalised to grow. With a wholly owned assembly plant and parts warehouse in Pietermaritzburg, Powerstar has a solid platform from which to service the entire SADEC region.”
Targeting specialised applications like construction, mining, agriculture and waste management, Powerstar fills a distinct niche in the market for an on/off-road truck that is robust, economical, simple to maintain and easy to drive.
“There’s no place for ‘cheap and nasty’ when it comes to industrial products,” adds Cloete, “and Powerstar trucks have proven their capacity to handle the harsh operating environments in southern Africa. We make it our business to understand our customers’ businesses and provide a genuine customised solution.”
With five Euro2 derivatives including 6×4, 6×6 and 8×4 driveline options, Powerstar trucks are especially equipped to handle rough terrain. Hub reduction axles and synchromesh manual transmissions ensure optimum traction in off-road conditions, enhancing efficiency and fuel economy. Available in both truck tractor and rigid chassis-cab configurations, Powerstar trucks are also suitable for on-road applications, sporting double-bunk sleeper cabs fitted with appropriate comfort and safety devices like suspended driver seats and audio-visual warning devices.
“Despite its new ownership, Powerstar has retained its skills base and our personnel are all highly experienced trucking professionals, from the assembly plant and parts warehouse, to the showroom floor and workshop,” says Cloete. “The past four years have allowed us to gain a solid understanding of what our respective niche markets require as far as service support is concerned. Our dealer network has grown substantially to include seven full dealerships incorporating sales, parts supply and vehicle servicing, plus 21 ‘service-only’ dealers, spanning South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. In time, this footprint will include all 15 SADEC countries.”
Guided by best-practice management principles, Powerstar is the only Chinese truck importer currently reporting its sales volumes to Naamsa (the National Association of Automotive Manufacturers of South Africa), bearing testimony to the organisation’s commitment to transparency and customer care.
“Our pricing model is extremely competitive and, by keeping our parts pricing concordant with the vehicle purchase price, combines to ensure low cost-of-ownership,” says Cloete. “Our in-house financing division makes procurement easy, assisted by our obliging trade-in approach. Furthermore, our warranties reflect our confidence in Powerstar products and, to date, we have not repudiated a single legitimate warranty claim.”
The economies of scale brought to bear by principal BeiBen on Powerstar have strengthened the local operation’s ability to offer comprehensive service support to its customers. “Both the Powerstar transmission and engine OEMs have representation in South Africa and are entering agreements with us to formalise support for Powerstar. We now have the ability to expand our range, phase into new markets and offer our clients a value proposition that best fits their needs,” concludes Cloete.