Starting a rrrrrrrrevolution!
Welcome to my favourite issue of FOCUS for the year. This is when we focus on the people in our industry. After all, it’s not just the bakkies, trucks, buses and coaches that keep the wheels turning …
I’m probably wrong to have a favourite issue. It is, after all, like having a favourite child. Each and every issue of FOCUS is special in its own way, but I do this job because of the people who I get to meet. Yes, I love the vehicles that we drive, but let’s face it … there are lots of good vehicles on the market; it is the people who set them apart …
When it comes to meeting people, this year has been my very best ever. I have met and interviewed the presidents of virtually every single major commercial vehicle manufacturer, in part thanks to our appointment to the International Truck of the Year jury.
Most recently, it was my turn to meet Bruno Blin, president of Renault Trucks. I interviewed him first at the IAA (if you missed our fabulous television programme on the show, called FOCUS ON IAA, check it out on YouTube). That was because Blin had just accepted the coveted Truck of the Year Award.
At the time, I asked him if he would be travelling to South Africa for Renault’s much-anticipated local launch (he confirmed that he would). Blin reminded me of our conversation when I met him again at the local launch. “You see, I am like a Renault truck; reliable,” he said with a big smile.
The new range of Renault trucks (the new C-range that is intended for light construction and long-haul purposes, as well as the K-range, which is aimed at more heavy construction and mining applications; you read all about them in last month’s FOCUS) is vitally important to the company, because it wants those trucks to propel its market share upwards.
“This is a big year in the history of Renault Trucks in southern Africa. With the launch of the new range, we are very optimistic about our prospective performance in the market and, in the process, we are reaffirming our commitment to the region,” Christian Coolsaet, newly appointed managing director of Renault Trucks Southern Africa, told FOCUS. “In South Africa alone, we are aiming to steadily increase our market share within the next 36 months – from two to five percent.”
Blin is mindful of the fact that this is a tough ask – especially given Renault’s turbulent past in this country. “We know that we have a lot to do,” he confided to FOCUS in an exclusive interview.
He certainly has the right tools for the job. “The Volvo Group has invested over US$ 2,5 billion (R27,6 billion) over the last eight years, for the total renewal of the Renault Trucks range. We have an objective to continue to use our cutting-edge technology and world-leading position to further develop our product offering in the future,” said Blin. “The overall ambition, with the development and introduction of this new range of products, is to consolidate our market share in southern Europe, expand in eastern Europe, as well as increase our footprint in Middle East and Africa.”
Value for money forms an important component of the new trucks. “Within the group, leading-edge new technology appears for the first time in Volvo trucks. Once the costs have been amortised, these features move into Renault trucks. This means that we have a superb range of vehicles, but we don’t have to foot the bill for all the development costs,” he explained.
It is, therefore, clear that Renault is preparing to offer the market a terrific combination of leading-edge technology plus value for money. Blin says this will go hand in hand with sensational customer service.
Coolsaet concurs: “Fleet owners have big expectations, in terms of proximity to the network with regard to service and availability of parts, but also for meaningful and durable relationships with experts from Renault Trucks. As transport operators expand their operations throughout the region, we know our Renault Trucks dealers are there to capture this market demand and support customers every step of the way.”
Blin and Coolsaet are certainly saying all the right things. And, judging by the presence of “the top man” at the local launch, they’re very determined to make strides in this ultra-competitive market. It seems as though Renault is keen to start a rrrrrrrrevolution!