Under promise and over deliver
Scania South Africa presented a development of its front-engine bus chassis at the 2017 Southern African Bus Operators Association (Saboa) conference. GAVIN MYERS finds out more
Alan Hugo, general manager for bus and coach at Scania South Africa, is a man on a mission. Having taken over management of the bus and coach division of Scania South Africa in January, Hugo has set about tying up the company’s strategy and product offering with the needs of its customers, more tightly than it has ever been before.
“We are changing the mindsets of our sales teams, and it begins with the relationships between them and our customers,” Hugo says. “Our salesmen need to be key-account managers and be the single point of call for any issues the customer may have. I like to lead from the front and put this forward in my interaction with our customers.”
Of course, this strategy aligns with the restructuring of the Scania organisation that has taken place over the past few years, where more emphasis has been placed on giving greater independence to the various regions and divisions.
“This has worked well and paid dividends on the truck side of the business, but it requires a bit of a mind shift when it comes to buses and coaches. Scania has a different culture to a lot of other businesses; we have a real ‘we-can’ attitude that is about more than just moving metal … it’s about offering a total solution that gives the customer peace of mind,” Hugo exclaims.
Naturally, that total solution begins with the metal – the actual vehicle. At Saboa 2017, Hugo is clearly enthusiastic when discussing the all-new F-type chassis on display – specifically, the F250 4×2 model, fitted with an automatic transmission and wearing a Marcopolo Torino body that offers seating for 65 passengers.
“The F-type chassis is a front-engine commuter bus available with either 250 hp (4×2) or 310 hp (6×2) drivetrains. It fills a gap in our product portfolio and broadens our market offering, being aimed at a variety of applications, such as the inner-city and rural commuter segments – among the biggest in the South African bus market,” Hugo explains.
It would seem that there is a degree of flexibility built into the package – Hugo agrees. “Parabolic suspension, which is very durable, is fitted front and rear on the F250, while the F310 features air suspension at the rear. There are several operational advantages with the automatic gearbox, such as reduced maintenance requirements, safety and driver comfort.”
Both models are powered by Scania’s modular 9,3-litre, five-cylinder engine. In the F250, 184 kW (250 hp) and 1 250 Nm are on tap, while the F310 offers 228 kW (310 hp) and 1 550 Nm between 1 000 and 1 350 r/min.
With a focus on quality, Scania will be running this vehicle as a demo unit to show its full potential, and it is using the Control Package version of the Scania Fleet Management system to monitor performance. This neatly leads us to the second part of the Scania total solution – offering the customer peace of mind and improved total operating costs.
“There are so many exciting developments coming up,” says Hugo. “We’re in the process of implementing Scania Insurance that will be specifically relevant to the overall bus market. We’re also working closely with other departments to make sure we can give our customers a tailor-made, and complete, solution.
“I’ve always said that the actual asset is the driver not the vehicle. There’s a need for skilled drivers, so driver training is another priority for us. All these solutions offer huge benefits to the customer.”
In a market filled with tough competition and economic, political and legislative issues, the more benefit a customer can derive from their partnership with their chosen vehicle supplier, the better.
“Our customers are like family; we develop long-standing relationships and endeavour to also bring value to the customer’s customer,” Hugo concludes.