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MAN Truck & Bus shows mettle in 2014, ready to pull out all stops in a ‘tough’ 2015

MAN Truck & Bus SA knew it would be recording positive results for 2014

MAN Truck & Bus SA knew it would be recording positive results for 2014 on the back of their superb performance in the bus segment of the industry. When Trucks & Heavy Equipment spoke to Geoff du Plessis, Managing Director of MAN Truck & Bus SA, in December full year sales figures and thus annualised market share data were not yet available.

Geoff du Plessis, Managing Director of MAN Truck and Bus SA.
Geoff du Plessis, Managing Director of MAN Truck and Bus SA.

Nonetheless Du Plessis was very upbeat about the company’s overall performance in 2014. “It has been quite an interesting year.

MAN had a slow start to the year, but by September and October we were registering excellent results when MAN held just over 13% total market share in the commercial vehicle sales arena.

“Overall market sales were largely influenced by increased cross-border traffic, as well as the fact that an increased number of fleet operators were shortening their replacement cycles to take advantage of the latest technology coming to market.

MAN had a slow start to the year, but by September and October we were registering excellent results

Tough and capable..a MAN truck for mining applications.
Tough and capable..a MAN truck for mining applications.

“As far as MAN is concerned, we enjoyed a particularly good 2014 with some great highlights, most especially on the bus side of our business.”

One such highlight was the delivery of 120 MAN Lion’s City A84 new buses to bolster the existing Tshwane Bus Services fleet.

This delivery formed part of a turn-around strategy adopted by the city in 2012.

City of Tshwane Executive Mayor, Councillor Kgosientso Ramokgopa received the handover key and accepted the fleet from MAN.

At the time, he spoke about the integral role that the buses play in transporting people to and from centres of economic production.

“These MAN buses will significantly increase the reliability of mass public transport in Tshwane,” he stated.

For MAN the greatest significance was that these rear-engined, low-entry buses had all been built completely locally by MAN – bus chassis, drivetrains and even bodies.

Another bus delivery which marked a special moment in MAN’s 2014 calendar was the handover of twelve new 27 metre – long bi-articulated bustrains added to Buscor’s existing fleet of ten MAN abnormal-length bi-articulated buses.

New vehicles by Buscor, a six-year pilot project initiated by Buscor and assisted by MAN Truck & Bus

The deployment of the new vehicles by Buscor followed a six-year pilot project initiated by Buscor and assisted by MAN, in response to a call from the National Department of Transport for bus operators around the country to find commuter transit solutions that would effectively alleviate road traffic congestion, improve passenger safety, limit emissions and reduce axle overloading to minimise damage to road pavement surfaces.

“We’re seeing continued interest in these and non-articulated buses, specifically daily commute vehicles,”

Excellent sales of MAN’s Lion’s City A84 bus
Excellent sales of MAN’s Lion’s City A84 bus

“We’re seeing continued interest in these and non-articulated buses, specifically daily commute vehicles,” said du Plessis Another moment in MAN local history was when one of MAN’s leading passenger car and commercial vehicle retailers, the Hatfield Group, officially opened its new dedicated MAN truck and bus dealership situated on the N4 highway, a few kilometres east of its Hatfield dealership. The new facility, on a 21 422m2 site, with its buildings covering 3 400m2 boasts ten fully-equipped service bays.

The dealership move also brought additional investment into the region as it was built at a capital cost of R45 million. “For MAN Truck & Bus SA the opening of the new facility represented a milestone in the evolution of our dealer network in South Africa, which now numbers 29 proprietary and independent dealerships,” said du Plessis.

“During 2015 MAN Truck & Bus SA plans to expand on the retail side even further as we push our strategy to further improve on our competitive BBBEE rating…”

“During 2015 MAN Truck & Bus SA plans to expand on the retail side even further as we push our strategy to further improve on our competitive BBBEE rating, which stands overall at a Level 4, with our Centurion outlet at a Level 2.

“New parameters in this regard come into effect in 2015 and 2016 and will certainly be one of strong focus for most players as we jostle for pole position for contracts which demand compliance with this legislation.” Other changing legislation, of which the full impact has yet to be assessed, is the imminent change in speed limits.

“With the regulations changed to an 80km/h limit many vehicles are set to fitted with speed limiters. I anticipate that most operators will probably be running at 85 km/h, which will make a great difference to their operating outcomes. For example, take the effect of the driving requirement on some vehicles’ gear ratios and the challenges this presents on wear and tear.

27-metre long bi-articulated bustrain allowed the company to enjoy a particularly good 2014.
27-metre long bi-articulated bustrain allowed the company to enjoy a particularly good 2014.

“In 2015 MAN will further keep focus on our various programmes to support the customers in their businesses. One such is MAN Service Care, which uses the existing technology in vehicles to ensure valuable communication with customers. The primary outcome of the programmes is to alleviated the customer’s burden and worry about service intervals,” explained du Plessis.

The MAN Service Care package tracks and warns customers of services which may be due. This relieves customers of the onerous task of tracking this themselves, freeing them to concentrate on their core business.

It also ensures vehicles are serviced at the correct intervals, extending their uptime. Service bookings are made on their behalf at the appropriate dealership; and, most importantly, the manufacturer’s service requirements are met.

Overall outlook for MAN Truck & Bus

“Overall 2015 is going to be tough. The operating environment in SA is unforgiving. We are faced with poor fuel quality; some bad road conditions; a drop in commodities trading value and subsequent drop in activity in this sector; a poor balance of payment position and an unstable political environment.

“Sales volumes in the commercial vehicle market in 2015 will be under pressure and we could see a lower result to that of 2014. However, a positive factor is the drop in fuel prices which greatly benefits the TOC of transport operators,” smiled du Plessis.

“Where MAN is concerned, we’re ready to pull out all stops in 2015…”

“Where MAN is concerned, we’re ready to pull out all stops in 2015. We’ve enhanced our senior executive team and are geared to expand on our services-and-support promise. “To this end we have appointed Matthias Müller, who has just joined our team as Head: Aftersales.

He has gained many years extensive experience in our industry locally and in China and Germany. Michael MacDonald, current Head of Aftersales, will be moving to head up Hatfield Truck & Bus, the new MAN facility just northeast of Tshwane CBD,” concluded Geoff du Plessis.

 
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Tristan Wiggill
Seasoned writer, journalist, photographer, and editor.
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