The business of used vehicles is growing, and MAN Truck & Bus South Africa is playing a leading role.
According to Emir Solapgir, group manager business development TopUsed, MAN Truck & Bus South Africa, MAN’s used-trucks business has been operating overseas for around 50 years. A lot can change in that time, though, and in 2013 parent company MAN AG assigned priority status to its TopUsed vehicle divisions in Europe and South Africa.
This is a sure sign of the strength of the used-vehicle market. “Used vehicles form a substantial part of MAN’s business, with around one used vehicle sold by us for every three new vehicles sold,” explains Solapgir.
Locally, the MAN used-vehicle business has been running for more than 15 years, and today the company has a national TopUsed footprint of six dealerships. These are located within the country’s key transport hubs: Bloemfontein, Centurion, Cape Town, Nelspruit, Pinetown and more recently, Port Elizabeth.
“The used commercial-vehicle market is growing significantly in South Africa as it provides a low-cost alternative to a new vehicle for start-up customers,” Solapgir explains. “The majority of our customers are small transport companies or ancillary operators.”
Geoff du Plessis, MD of MAN Truck & Bus South Africa, explains that the unpredictable nature of commercial transport in southern Africa has made it increasingly important for operators to be able to predict costs.
“MAN TopUsed, with its wide product range, is ideally positioned to service those markets where start-up private-capital fleets are coming to the fore. Strong brand equity, combined with a wide selection of premium-quality vehicles with low price tags, presents an attractive option,” he notes.
Du Plessis, who headed up MAN TopUsed worldwide from 2010 to March 2013, explains that this predictability of costs extends to having a buy-back agreement, signed with MAN and supported by TopUsed, at the point of sale, which gives the customer the assurance of vehicle replacement capital.
There are a number of other advantages to choosing a vehicle from MAN TopUsed. These include skilled sales personnel, who offer their customers fleet consultation services, such as optimum vehicle selection and the sourcing of trailers. “Financing facilities offered by MAN Financial Services is another key market differentiator for TopUsed dealers,” adds Solapgir.
Then there are the vehicles themselves. “There is 100 percent transparency on the status of every TopUsed truck or bus, with every vehicle on offer having undergone thorough checks to ascertain overall condition and to ensure the mileage is genuine,” assures Solapgir.
Every vehicle for sale is available to each of the MAN TopUsed dealers. Customers can view the range of quality, certified vehicles on the MAN TopUsed website and the vehicles are readily transported countrywide to customers between any of the MAN TopUsed centres.
“We have the biggest range of immediately available vehicles for any application. Our biggest advantage for our customers is that we have access to the right vehicles for the job, which are thoroughly checked and repaired to the appropriate standards – depending on the age, mileage and condition of the vehicle – for peace of mind,” he reiterates.
This isn’t too difficult, as many of the vehicles are returned as guaranteed buybacks, as well as trade-ins when new vehicles were sold.
Buses are included, too. “We are really performing well in this segment; our used-bus business is growing every year, and we have new as well as repeat business. Our well-trained consultants and good-quality vehicles are as well known in the bus market as they are in the truck market.”
According to Solapgir, a number of customers buy vehicles to transport goods across the border, as well as to use in neighbouring countries. Repeat business forms a large part of the sales to these customers too.
“This part of the business is receiving a lot of attention from management,” he alludes. “We are also expanding into sub-Saharan Africa and have had increasing success there.”
Back on South African soil, MAN is expanding the TopUsed footprint by appointing TopUsed franchises with independent MAN dealers. The first of these, Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus, a subsidiary of AAD Group, was appointed in May. (See the June issue of FOCUS.)
“MAN has always recognised the importance of a proprietary used-vehicle division as a value driver in the sale of its new trucks and buses. We have the biggest range on offer of quality, immediately available used vehicles, on the continent,” concludes Du Plessis.
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