German carmaker Daimler, whose official dealer in Malawi is Stansfield Motors, on Thursday, February 9, 2016 officially launched its regional centre for Southern Africa in Pretoria, South Africa from where the company will serve its customers in nine countries in the region, including Malawi.
Stuttgart-German-based Daimler’s director for trucks and buses, Wolfgang Bernhard, said the regional centre will enable the company to respond faster to requirements of its commercial vehicle in the region.
“This will help us to further tap the growth potential of this emerging region,” said Bernhard.
Daimler’s Trucks and Buses Southern Africa executive director, Kobus van Zyl, said the move will help them to further tap the growth potential of this emerging region.
“Southern Africa is a promising growth region,” said Van Zyl.
The centre in Pretoria, which previously only covered South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho, now also includes Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia.
It is responsible for promoting the company’s entire range of commercial vehicles throughout the region, including Mercedes-Benz, FUSO and Freightliner trucks, buses and vans.
Before January 1, these markets were the responsibility of Daimler’s office in Stuttgart, Germany.
“The economic growth forecast for this [Southern Africa] region would prove more positive than most of the globe up to 2020, with economic growth to stimulate infrastructure expansion, which, in turn, would stimulate truck sales. The centre would benefit from the expansion of South African businesses into Southern Africa,” said Van Zyl.
He also said the company was excited about the opportunities in Malawi.
“We have many common industries between South Africa and Malawi and you will have noticed that for example sugar is a big business in Malawi and it’s also a big business in South Africa. And we have got good experience in the sugar transportation. So we believe that as a result of these historical ties, the fact that we know sugar, we know trucking, we know sugar, we know transport, we will be able to support Stansfield Motors not only to build their business but to also to build Malawi,” said Van Zyl.
He said observed that the market in Malawi, like those of most other African countries, is dominated by used vehicles – some of which are dumped by many other countries across the world.
“So, first we see an opportunity for used vehicles, proper used vehicles, in the way we deal with used vehicles. And then through the used vehicles, service to the customers, supporting Stansfield Motors, we want to explore also new vehicles. As that [Malawi] economy comes together, we will be there to capitalize on the opportunities,” he declared.
He said the companies customers in Malawi should expect a seamless Daimler truck after sales experience and as well as a parts supply experience as experienced all over the world.
“We believe that since we have shortened timelines and we would have shortened the supply lines for our distributors, this will immediately have a positive impact on the uptimes of our customers.” he said.
The formation of the centre is expected to drive sales growth for the German manufacturer in the region.
Stansfield Motors Malawi general manager, Michael Khomani, agreed with Van Zyl that the centre in Pretoria will help boost Malawi’s transport sector as it will reduce the time it takes for delivery of vehicle units as well as spare parts to customers in Malawi.
He said previously, the company was dealing with Daimler in German and thatwith the regional centre, Stansfield Motors will now be transacting with South Africa for all the Daimler brand of vehicles available in Malawi which include Mercedes Benz, Freightliner and Fuso.
“What this basically means to our customers is that we will be ordering vehicles much quicker because we are now dealing with South Africa,” said Khomani, adding:
“And therefore we are looking at better logistics, much more improved delivery period.”
He also said South Africa being where they are, they will understand Malawi better as they are closer to the country than German.
“And we are expecting that there will be more benefit which will in the end be felt by our customers,” said Khomani.
Khomani said while Malawi’s truck vehicle business is still small at about 100 or 150 units in a year, there was great potential in the country, especially with projected medium term growth in telecommunications, sugar and agriculture as well as the petroleum industry.
“And we know that with the hardships in our economy, some customers have resorted to buying used trucks. We now have got answers for that going through South Africa as we now be able to supply both brand new as well as used trucks,” said Khomani.
Bernhard said Daimler wants regions managed by people reading the same newspapers and living in the same time zones as its customers.
“We look forward to a bright future in the region. Having a stronger presence in the southern African markets means that we are able to react faster and be in touch more frequently with our commercial vehicle customers and the various General Distributors in the respective countries,” he said.
“The Regional Centre Southern Africa provides further opportunities for all our commercial vehicle endeavours, including sales, after-sales, marketing, client services and parts. We want to be the first choice commercial vehicle business that makes a real difference to the lives of our stakeholders,” said Bernhard.
He said customers would be guaranteed a full after sales service, including guaranteed availability of spare parts.
“We are bringing the company closer to customers and shorten supply chains. It is more effective to run the business from regional centres, rather than from Stuttgart, ensuring that the customers would not have to wait for lengthy periods before their requirements are met,” he added.
Similar centres have also been opened in Nairobi, Kenya covering the east, central and West Africa and in Dubai covering the Middle East and North Africa region.
Centres for South Asia, South-east Asia and Latin America will follow.
Daimler sold about 5,500 trucks and buses in 2015.
New vehicles sales in Malawi were recorded at 1,663, making the country the smallest market for vehicles in the world, according to a recent research report by an international vehicle sales website Focus2Move.
The report shows that new vehicle sales in Malawi increased by 4.8 percent in 2015 and that Mala is dominated by pick-ups and Toyota is leader handling over the half of total market.
Quoting data from Malawi’s Association of Car Importers, Focus2Move says in 2015 Toyota sold 862 vehicles or 51.8 percent of total market followed by Ford, thanks to the pick-up Ranger, with 227 sales while the third was Nissan, with 166 units.
Malawi’s car market is dominated by second import vehicles with recent data from the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) indicating that about 3,000 used cars enter the country annually.
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