With one of the strongest market shares in its home country, success in Africa and partnerships with multiple international organisations, Sinotruk is now ready to tackle the South African market
The South African trucking industry should expect to start seeing the name Sinotruk become more prominent, as the Chinese brand has launched itself into what is currently a hotly contested, but stagnating, market.
Sinotruk South Africa was, in fact, originally incorporated as a local company in 2014 as the first overseas subsidiary of the Sinotruk Group; wholly owned by Sinotruk (Hong Kong) International Investment.
“The company’s main task is to deal with Sinotruk vehicles and spare parts, and especially to better serve the South Africa market,” says Zhong “Jeff” Qirong, sales manager at Sinotruk South Africa.
While many readers may simply dismiss Sinotruk as yet another Chinese entity with visions of capturing a piece of the African pie, the brand is actually an exceptionally strong performer in its own country. It sold more than 200 000 commercial vehicles in 2016, which represented a growth of more than 28,4 percent over 2015.
The sales volume of the brand’s heavy-duty trucks was 123 000 units, 25 percent more than 2015. It also sold 75 000 light-duty trucks in 2016, which is a 35 percent year-on-year growth. The sales volume of buses and coaches was more than 2 500 units, which represents a 48,6 percent growth over 2015.
In Africa, Sinotruk’s sales volume has progressed significantly, with 15 000 vehicles sold in 2015. Even during the economic downturn in 2016, 14 000 units were sold.
The history of the brand can be traced back to 1935, and it began developing heavy trucks in 1956. Over the years many international partnerships have been entered into to enable Sinotruk to accumulate extensive experience and improve product quality.
In 1983, for example, Sinotruk signed a contract with Austrian Steyr-Daimler-Puch to introduce manufacturing technology of the Steyr 91 series heavy-duty truck. This was the first time the Chinese government approved a technology-sharing project for heavy-duty trucks.
In June 2003 a heavy-duty truck joint-venture project was entered into between Sinotruk and Volvo, while 2009 saw Sinotruk and the MAN Group enter into partnership. With MAN holding a 25 percent plus one share in Sinotruk, this led to the introduction of the TGA series and D20, D26 and D08 engines from MAN.
Other international names associated with Sinotruk include ZF, Allison, Voith, Wabco, Bosch, Knorr Bremse, Alcoa, SKF and Michelin.
The company has set up representative offices in 72 countries. Sinotruk has managed to sell 40 000 heavy-duty trucks in more than 90 countries and regions annually, making it the top Chinese heavy-duty truck exporter for 12 years running.
On the African continent, knocked-down assembly of vehicles has been established in Nigeria, Morocco and Ethiopia, with another plant being built in Algeria. Sinotruk has been involved with numerous governmental projects, such as in Angola, and assembly in Nigeria is through a joint-venture company with the Dangote Group.
The name Sinotruk is clearly well known – and well supported – throughout the African continent north of our own borders. The brand is, therefore, now poised to offer a range of vehicle solutions to the local market.
“As stipulated in the rules of the South African Bureau of Standards and the Department of Roads and Transport, Sinotruk South Africa has already gained vehicle homologation certificates and
NATIS documents for more than 81 models,” explains Qirong.
Among others, these include a truck tractor, drop side, tipper, mixer, mining dumpers and all-wheel-drive military vehicles.
“Sinotruk South Africa has also gained an importer and exporter certificate to qualify to distribute Sinotruk vehicles and spare parts in South Africa, as well as in neighbouring countries,” Qirong adds.
With its head office in Sandton, Johannesburg, the preliminary Sinotruk South African sales and service network has been set up. There are more than four dealers in Johannesburg, Pretoria and other cities, with the sales ability to distribute in all the main cities in South Africa.
A key focus area for the brand has been aftersales service, which begins with a parts centre in Boksburg with the inventory to supply southern African markets. “Contracted after-sales service stations have been signed up all over the country, especially along the main transport lines; including the cities of Durban, Harrismith, Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and East London,” Qirong concludes.
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