The art of wise buying
The motives of operators are changing when it comes to buying new stock. Globalised sourcing of components, value-added services and a reduction in risk for operators all come together to influence the purchasing decision.
The specifications of modern trucks and buses are so similar that product differential between the vehicles available on the South African market is no longer an important factor or a major buying motive for operators.
Globalisation and the availability of excellent truck and bus components have resulted in manufacturers around the world selecting and fitting world-class components to their vehicles. Gone are the days when truck and bus manufacturers adopted a policy of using only their own components. In today’s highly competitive global village trading market, manufacturers have been forced to select components based on quality and price – irrespective of the source.
The result is that modern trucks and buses are highly durable. Therefore, potential buyers feel comfortable selecting almost any of the vehicle brands that are available on the market, provided that the manufacturer and the dealer offer good product support.
Today’s wise truck and bus buyer focuses on the added value of the product offered by the manufacturer and the dealer. This added value – in the form of vehicle backup; warranty; network of supporting dealers; maintenance and/or service contracts and 24-hour road-side assistance – is important for the vehicle operator when making a purchasing decision.
In a highly competitive commercial market, vehicle availability and reliability have become important to the operator. Truck and bus manufacturers and dealers that can offer the full package of added product support and sell the benefits of these added-value products are currently enjoying a good market share.
From the operator’s point of view, it is all about reducing the business risk. Extended warranties and maintenance contracts help to reduce risk. Due to the high durability and reliability of modern trucks and buses, most manufacturers have the confidence to offer excellent extended vehicle warranties. These provide the operator with peace of mind for the full term of the contract period without any risk of unforeseen component failure and expense.
These extended warranties have also encouraged many operators to shorten their vehicle replacement policy. They now choose to replace their vehicles at the end of the warranty and/or maintenance period. Vehicles that have been maintained by the dealer on a maintenance contract and are traded-in or sold at the end of the period realise good prices, which helps to reduce the lifetime costs of the vehicle.
But it is not only maintenance and extended warranty periods that encourage operators to select a particular make of vehicle. The wise buyer is also looking for the full package of added-value product support. Added product value and vehicle backup is extremely important to long distance operators, especially those who operate beyond the borders of South Africa.
With the continued escalation in the price of fuel, vehicle fuel consumption remains a high priority among many operators. But, it is no good buying a vehicle that obtains good fuel consumption if the support system to keep the vehicle on the road is not in place.
One of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, VIC OLIVER has been in this industry for 49 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.