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Yes, we can! says Mercedes-Benz SA

Echoing US President Obama’s well-known quote, Kobus van Zyl, Executive Director: Daimler Trucks & Buses (DT&B), a division of Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), smiles broadly: “Yes, we can!” he says.

This sense of confidence exudes from his belief in his company, his products, and his team. Realistically optimistic van Zyl says that getting through both bad and good times is a matter of attitude, always seeking new or better opportunities to shine, no matter what the external factors.

2015 in the rearview mirror

“Last year 2015 our group cemented its place as the leading commercial vehicles mobility solutions provider in southern Africa with our premium Mercedes-Benz, our versatile FUSO, bullish Freight-liner and powerhouse Western Star brands.

“As Daimler Trucks & Buses, we always believe that our stakeholders – whether they are customers, government, media, dealer partners, the various charities we support or suppliers – always have to experience us making magic for them. This means continuously doing what others believe to be impossible. We achieve this only because we have the best people, the best vehicles and the best resources to do so,” says van Zyl.

Throughout 2015, Daimler Trucks & Buses clearly demonstrated how our various brands devised innovative solutions and interventions that justify our claim to being a benchmark in the commercial vehicles industry.

FUSO Canter
The FUSO Canter.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks continued to offer innovative solutions such as Telligent Maintenance (flexible service intervals) and Active Brake Assist II. Customers also enjoyed reduced service costs, decreased fuel consumption, and experienced increased uptime.

In a further drive from Daimler Trucks & Buses to be customer-centric, the Freightliner team achieved first position in the Heavy Truck Study Customer Service Index for sales and service, as well as leading in the productivity category in terms of fuel consumption and payload.

Mercedes-Benz coach
The Mercedes-Benz coach.

The FUSO team launched the FA 9-137, the first vehicle to be imported by FUSO Trucks Southern Africa from the Daimler India Commercial Vehicle (DICV) plant in Chennai, which will see more ‘built in India’ products in the future.

Not to be outdone, Mercedes-Benz Bus & Coach was the first manufacturer to offer buses running on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to the local market.

These engines surpass Euro V standards, with up to a 90% reduction in nitrogen oxide and 20% in carbon monoxide emissions. These environmentally-friendly vehicles also generate no particulate matter (ash) or solid residuals.

Mercedes-Benz Freightliner
The Mercedes-Benz Freightliner.

As testament of its customer commitment, Mercedes-Benz Bus & Coach will soon be offering du-al-fuel buses as well. This innovative technology works by mixing diesel and gas together to produce eco-friendly vehicles.

Regarded as an indestructible truck, the Western Star continued to be associated with impossible recovery situations and abnormal load applications. Throughout 2015, this truck showed why it is capable of 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week operation without showing any signs of slowing down.

This is achieved in part due to its strong-back custom frame, a purpose-built drivetrain and the manufacturer constantly looking for ways to reduce customers’ costs per ton.

“One of the reasons Daimler Trucks & Buses remains a leader is our value chain offerings, which allow us to walk the journey with our customers, right from the point of purchase until the vehicle is decommissioned. We have ensured the comprehensive products and services we offer mean that we are adding value for all of our stakeholders,” adds van Zyl.

Daimler Trucks & Buses product offering: Mercedes-Benz Actros
DT&B’s product offering: Mercedes-Benz Actros.

Daimler Trucks & Buses’ superior telematics system, FleetBoard, remained the product of choice for most of Daimler’s vehicles as more than 60% of all Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks purchased were sold fitted with FleetBoard.


Another exemplary division of MBSA is TruckStore, based in Centurion, and boasting the title of being the first TruckStore outside of Europe. As a pre-owned vehicles business, TruckStore proved to be one of the most successful divisions within MBSA by building on the success already achieved.

In yet another effort to enhance the user’s experience, Daimler Trucks & Buses ’s maintenance and service contracts arm, CharterWay, guaranteed customer uptime and ensured a single point of contact for all after-sales requirements, all through Charter-Way Mobility.

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS) once again posed the question of “Who better to finance your commercial vehicle than the people who built it?” and proved this by offering innovative financial products. This included the unmatched operating lease, which contributed to MBFS reaching the billion rand mark in sales.

“As the pace setter in safety, efficiency, financing maintenance, and all other commercial vehicle-related activities, 2015 proved to be a mixed bag for Daimler Trucks & Buses . As a company who have been in the lead for 125 years, we did what was previously thought to be impossible and consistently made it possible. We could not have had such a resounding year had it not been for all of our stakeholders,” says van Zyl.

Daimler Trucks & Buses in 2016: “We will uphold our mantra..”

The Western Star“We will uphold our mantra – ‘Yes, we can’ – in 2016,” says van Zyl. “The same external factors affect the transport industry, across the board. At DT&B we accept our local reality and will pursue growth and opportunities despite the obvious detractors facing our economy and our industry.” Without giving away too many details on what Daimler Trucks & Buses plans for 2016, van Zyl hinted at the following priorities:

  • Localisation is high on the list, especially with regard to trailers and body-builders investigating downstream logistics opportunities
  • Expanding the FUSO value-chain offering
  • Direct-drive, built on the back of the hypoid axle
  • Ways to extend take up of vehicles running on Euro VI / Euro V engines
  • Africa opportunities

“Overall, we see the 2016 transport sales as flt with little growth, but again we need to look beyond our limited horizons,” van Zyl concludes.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa