Daimler Trucks and Bus Southern Africa (DTBSA) chief, Jasper Hafkamp, shares his view of the economy, the current transport industry and DTBSA’s outlook for the next few months
Following the technical recession in the local economy, the transport industry reflected this through overall commercial vehicles sales (trucks and buses) to date, showing a decline since 2016, which incidentally is the lowest since 2010,” says Hafkamp.
“The main reason for this is periodic contractions in some sectors like mining and construction, general uncertainty about the country’s political direction and the instability of the Rand.
“For 2017, we expect similar results to that of last year – basically a flat market compared to 2016. Perhaps even a bit lower. However, there are always some positive aspects. One just needs to look closer,” says Hafkamp. “There will be some small growth in the GDP, which is good for investment, and minimal growth in the overall total vehicle market in 2018.”
Hafkamp picks up the call for cleaner fuel:
“Our customers are constantly looking for greater efficiencies to bring about real savings. They, however, have indicated that they feel there is no progress in the area of cleaner fuels. It is a great pity that there is no Euro 5 legislation or incentive in place, which will bring with it new foreign and local investment in the commercial vehicle industry.
“Sadly, this problem also prevents a global company like ourselves from bringing in many fuel-efficient technologies, mostly Euro 5, which will go a long way towards an overall more efficient commercial vehicle parc. Unfortunately, movement towards using Euro 5-defined fuel remains low on the government’s agenda.
“In southern Africa – Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi – the challenges are even greater; with a number of countries’ economies suffering under unstable political and economic environments. Also impacting negatively are exchange rates and getting forex financing,” says Hafkamp.
“Looking at the potential in southern Africa, we at Daimler see a decline over the last two to three years for new trucks, and we do not see indications of any changes soon. Despite this, we will maintain our company’s presence in these countries as we believe the change will eventually come and we want our footprint maintained in Africa for the sake of our customers travelling through these regions going northwards.”
Daimler plans to extend its used truck operations into the northern regions under the banner of ‘Select Trucks’ following its experience of customers’ growing interest in buying good preowned vehicles.
“As the market leader in the local commercial vehicle industry we are grateful for the continued loyalty and faith from our customers. We attribute this primarily to our excellent products, value-added products like FleetBoard and good aftersales services, as well as our wide reach into not only corporate and large fleets, but also start-ups and medium-sized fleets.
“Together with the dealer network we focus every day on staying out front in the market. This we mainly do by constantly improving our service levels – be it in sales or the aftermarket.”
Turning to Daimler products that will be introduced to expand the local range, Hafkamp concludes: “For Mercedes- Benz and Fuso numerous plans are in place for expansion. Mercedes-Benz will be introducing the new Actros in 2018, while Fuso will continue to extend its ranges in the light and medium-duty truck segments.”