In the last edition of FleetWatch, mention was made in the editor’s comment of the fact that UD Trucks Southern Africa is looking optimistically into the future with expectations of 2011 being a great year for the company.
CEO Johan Richards is, by nature, an optimist but his smile seemed just that little bit wider this time than in the past. We’ll look at ‘˜why’ in our next issue,’ is what was stated.
The ‘˜why’ revolves around the fact that a new focus on business in Africa as opposed to just South Africa has brought a new vibe into the company. Evidence of this is given via the fact that UD Trucks was the top local truck exporter in 2010, claiming a significant 27.87% share of the market by exporting 240 units during the course of the year. This represents a year-on-year increase of 48.15% in export sales for UD Trucks Southern Africa. And plans are in place to increase that share even further.
Richards attributes the company’s success in the export market to its concerted focus on providing its African customers with world-class products and services appropriate to each market.
“In January 2010, we took responsibility for the UD Trucks Corporation’s entire sub-Saharan region and are constantly developing and strengthening our footprint across the region. As a result of this, we believe the quality of our dealerships and the level of sustainable support we provide along the major routes in sub-Saharan Africa are the key driving forces behind our successful sales performance last year,’ said Richards.
UD Trucks Southern Africa has dealers in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and is currently investigating a number of opportunities for expansion across the region.
“In essence, we are able to support fleet owners along the major corridors in the region, from Cape Town to Kampala and across to Lagos in Nigeria,’ said Richards.
Products for Africa
In addition, extensive research by the company’s corporate and product planning division has ensured that each market is reached with the appropriate products, technology and support.
“We don’t believe in merely dumping sub-standard products and services in Africa. We are, in effect, mirroring our activities and services here in South Africa to efficiently support our dealers and customers in sub-Saharan Africa,’ said Richards.
“We are continuously aiming to get the fundamentals right across the region, which includes the local manufacturing of quality products at competitive prices, an effective parts supply and unrelenting aftermarket support.’
Richards said one of the company’s most crucial tasks at hand is the development and introduction of models for each specific country, which includes both left hand and right hand drive markets. Where most of the SADC countries have similar product requirements to that of South Africa, the rest of the region has unique markets. For this reason, UD Trucks Southern Africa is currently busy with intense research and product development projects across the region.
“The array of dynamics existent in the various southern African markets could mean that our current product line-up of around 20 derivatives could in the future grow into 40 variants in order to meet all the unique transport requirements across the region,’ said Richards.
Two of the key territories UD Trucks Southern Africa is currently focusing on are Nigeria and Angola, both of which the company believe have great potential for future development. UD Trucks Southern Africa already has established dealerships and service agents in key areas like Lobito, Luanda, Lagos and Abuja.
These two countries have a combined market of around 15 000 units per year and UD Trucks’ current product plan includes the introduction and support of 12 models in Angola and seven in Nigeria.
“Based on a strong foundation of durability, reliability and customer satisfaction, UD Trucks will in future offer transport solutions that will achieve the ideal balance between product and price,’ said Richards. “This means introducing and supporting products that cover the upper budget, value and premium sectors of the commercial vehicle market.’
He said the company is committed to design, develop and support trucks that are tailor-made for the southern African market and operating conditions, combining product and technological synergies developed within the Group.
For this reason, UD Trucks Southern Africa follows an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary approach in product development and in its dealings with its customers.
Given all this, it’s no wonder that smile on Richards’ face was bigger than in the past.