Showcasing savvy solutions
The Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS), which this year ran from October 16
to 27, offers companies a wonderful opportunity to showcase their latest and greatest … MAN Truck & Bus did just that, making full use of this year’s exhibition to highlight its extensive product and service offering.
MAN Truck & Bus South Africa’s executive chairman, Geoff du Plessis, relates: “Walking around the show grounds, it really struck me how South Africa has attracted competitors from all the different markets. We’ve got everyone from North and South America, India, Korea, China and, of course, Europe all present here.”
He adds: “It also strikes me that there is an equally diverse array of support for those products on offer in the market. We’re particularly proud of MAN, however, as it really offers professional support – not only in terms of products, but also in terms of all the services that we offer to
Bruce Dickson, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus South Africa, points out: “At this international event, MAN places great importance on making a lasting impression as it is the only heavy commercial vehicle expo of this magnitude on the African continent.”
At shows like these, presentation is everything – and MAN definitely hit the nail firmly on the head. Using the iconic Rubik’s Cube as a motif, the company staged an ideal exhibition to showcase its MAN Solutions offering.
“Our overall exhibit here is all about how MAN Truck & Bus directly addresses the many issues that are pushing our industry forward, and how we provide solutions to the most pressing challenges facing truck and bus operators in Africa today,” Dickson explains.
According to Du Plessis, fuel efficiency has always been a key driver in the industry. “Today it is absolutely imperative for operators to limit their diesel consumption through the procurement of fuel-efficient vehicles,” he says.
A stellar example of one such vehicle is MAN’s flagship long-haul truck, the TGS EfficientLine, which was featured on the company’s outdoor exhibition. Last year, MAN proved – through its Consistently Efficient Tour, a 2 400 km economy run – that a 7,8 percent diesel saving can be achieved with this derivative. This translates to a 2,63 kg reduction in CO2 for every litre of diesel saved.
But MAN’s other offerings also sport great fuel efficiency as Brian Hunt, MD of Timber Logistics Services, explains: “We’ve used MAN’s products for 11 years. Back then it offered the best package and deal. It was the only company prepared to adapt its products to our needs – no one else was willing to change the design of a truck purely for forestry applications.” He adds: “However, these days we use its vehicles primarily because of their low fuel consumption, as this is a huge factor.”
The outdoor exhibition also showcased MAN’s “Trucks to Go” programme. “This gives fleet operators the opportunity to purchase, off the showroom floor, a selection of fully bodied new rigid freight carriers from MAN’s CLA and VW truck ranges, enabling immediate deployment,” Dickson explains. “The big benefit is that our ‘Trucks to Go’ derivatives can start earning their keep the same day they leave the MAN dealership.”
Also at the exhibition were derivatives from Volkswagen heavy-duty trucks and buses. The buses on display illustrated the company’s ability to service niche passenger transit applications like Bus Rapid Transit. These included the Lion City A84, built in the local MAN factory – ensuring more than 80 percent local content.
The company is already a major player in the local bus industry, which is strengthened by its Volkswagen offering. Johann Bonthuys, director of Midbank Thembalethu Bus Service, explains: “MAN did a wonderful thing by bringing Volkswagen into the country. Our business runs between Witbank and Brits, which is mostly just flat topography, so you don’t need a bus with a big engine.” He continues: “The Volkswagen bus is a wonderful vehicle for this application – it has a smaller engine and low fuel consumption, so it is the ideal bus for our business.”
However, MAN’s stand wasn’t only about trucks and buses … Du Plessis explains: “It is about trucks and buses and everything we do to support them. We’ve got a massive range of solutions that we bolt onto our products to give an overall solution to our customers to meet their fleet requirements.”
These include customisable finance, warranty and maintenance contracts, advanced driver training and telematics solutions, constant support and parts supply (no matter the date or time), intra-Africa support and guaranteed vehicle buybacks.
The overall quality of MAN’s services and support leaps out when talking to its clients, old and new. “We incorporated MAN into our fleet, just over a year ago, and we’re really impressed with the company,” says Veeren Gokool, CEO of Gecko Group. “We’re impressed with everything,” he reiterates. “They do everything like clockwork.”
And this sentiment is shared by many. Says Hunt: “The back-up service and support from MAN is phenomenal.” He adds: “I appreciate the fact that this company isn’t arrogant and we felt very welcome on its stand.”
It’s no wonder that MAN’s exhibition area was abuzz and jam-packed during the show. “I saw 60 percent of our customers in the few days that I was there,” Dickson points out. “Our whole intention behind having a nice stand is to offer a place for our customers to engage with us – and I’m thrilled to say that it has been really well supported.”
He adds that MAN signed an order for 10 trucks three days into the show and sold two used vehicles on its stand. “But for us at MAN it isn’t about making deals; it’s about forming long-term relationships with our customers.”