Michael Dietz, President & CEO of Daimler Truck Southern Africa, tells of how when he talks to his overseas colleagues about competitive markets, they shake their heads in amazement when he points out how many OEM commercial vehicle suppliers are operating in South Africa all vying for a slice of the cake. Well, there’s another one on the way – albeit with products down at the lower end of the commercial vehicle scale.
India’s Force Motors, a market leader in the manufacture and selling of panel vans and midi-buses in India, has announced that it will be entering the South African market in 2023. It has appointed ETG Logistics, Export Trading Group’s logistics and warehousing business vertical, to distribute their range of vehicles in Southern Africa. ETG is a global conglomerate with a vast African distribution footprint.
A comprehensive product portfolio is planned including the Gurkha 4×4 Off-roader, Traveller midi-bus, panel van and ambulance, and the Kargo King pick-up range. While the Gurkha is aimed at serious off-roading enthusiasts, the Traveller midi-bus is expected to be popular with mini- and midi-bus taxi operators who are looking for affordable people mover solutions.
Homologation of these vehicles for the South African market is currently underway and the first vehicles on South African roads can be expected during the first quarter of 2023.
Speaking at the signing of the distribution agreement, Kalpesh Patel, CEO of ETG Logistics Business, said they are excited to partner with Force Motors and “South Africa will be the first market to which we will offer mobility solutions for customers in the people moving, freight and SUV spaces.”
He added that they are also in advanced discussions for the East African markets and Kenya will be the first country targeted in that region, including the longer term possibility of an assembly plant. “Mobility solution for the wildlife-tourism sector is another focus point we are exploring,” he said.
Adding his voice to the excitement was Prasan Firodia, Managing Director, Force Motors who said: “We believe we have the right products to cater to different customer segments and with the association with ETG Logistics, look forward to emerging as a strong brand in multiple African markets.”
About Force Motors Limited
The name Force Motors Limited is new to most of us but in India, the company is well known as being a fully vertically integrated automobile company with expertise in the design, development and manufacture of the full range of automotive components, aggregates, vehicles and agricultural tractors.
Force Motors is the flagship of the company group headed by Dr Abhay Firodia which has nine manufacturing units across the country and a 10 000-strong workforce.
A pioneer in the field of light commercial vehicles, Force Motors introduced brands like the Tempo, Matador and Minidor. The flagship product Traveller is a market leader in the 9 to 26-seater van category. The Trax is the most preferred people mover in rural India. The company also manufactures agricultural tractors for the Indian market.
Since 1997, when Daimler AG took the decision to manufacture Mercedes cars in India, the engines fitted on their cars made in India are produced at Force Motors. To date, Force Motors has supplied over 143 000 engines and 128 000 axles to Mercedes Benz India.
In 2015, BMW assigned Force Motors to produce and test the engines for all cars and SUVs to be made in India. A state of the art factory has been built to BMW standards by Force Motors in Chennai close to their factory. To date, Force Motors has supplied over 66 000 engines to BMW.
In March 2018, Force Motors entered into a joint-venture agreement with Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG to manufacture in India and supply worldwide, the 10 and 12cylinder, MTU Series 1600 engines (545hp to 1050hp) for power generation and under floor rail applications.
And for those who – like me – haven’t heard too much of ETG Logistics, it operates an established automotive and farm equipment distribution business in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, and Kenya with plans to further increase its footprint in East and Southern Africa, among other regions. The brands represented include TVS Motor Company, TGB, Ashok Leyland, Force Motors, Belarus Minsk Tractors, VST and Shaktiman.
So, here comes another brand into our market. South Africans are the most ‘spoilt for choice’ nation in the world when it comes to vehicles. Let’s see how these ones do. FleetWatch’s advice to Force Motors and ETG Logistics is: “Welcome and please ensure that when selling into the commercial vehicle market, put Lifetime Cost of Ownership above purchase price.”