Isuzu Trucks: determined to stay on top

Isuzu Trucks: determined to stay on top

It’s tough at the top. Isuzu Truck South Africa has been the top seller in the country’s medium and heavy commercial vehicle market for the last 11 years, but is acutely aware of increasing competition from the East. COLIN WINDELL reports…

For this reason, the annual Nampo Harvest Day show in Bothaville, Free State (hosted by Grain SA) remains a singularly important focus point for the company, which is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary in South Africa.

The exhibition presents the company with a chance to remind farmers of the existing product range and introduce something new. The latter took the form of the NPS 300 Crew Cab 4×4 SWA overlander, which is ideally suited to a farmer who actually finds the time to take a holiday.

While Isuzu Truck SA has long ruled the roost in the cab-over-chassis market in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle segments, it is certainly not resting on its laurels. “There are a number of our competitors that we need to keep a close eye on. These new products coming in – specifically from China, or with a big Chinese influence – have low prices,” says Iemraan Brown, senior manager – commercial vehicle planning and program management for Isuzu Commercial Vehicles. “This is something we need to address, and we obviously cannot just drop our prices dramatically. Instead, there are other areas of focus. Total cost of ownership (TCO) is one, along with our superb after-sales service to our customers.” 

He adds that the company is also looking at new products where it may not be currently represented in the market: “We are looking within the medium and heavy commercial segments and at other products as well. We’re specifically looking for products that will enable us to compete a little bit better with those Chinese products.”

Brown says that the company constantly examines its vehicle range and makes comparisons to establish exactly how it stacks up. “One of the things we can do to mitigate the cost element is to revisit the standard specification and, perhaps, to take out some of the ‘nice-to-have’ luxury items without compromising on the safety or practicality of the products we have on offer,” he suggests. In so doing, Isuzu would be launching a more entry-level product.

Aside from the farming equipment, animals, animal feed, and other purely agricultural products, Nampo is the largest annual motor vehicle expo in the country, with everyone vying for a slice of an extremely lucrative pie. A walk around the extensive showgrounds reveals the full spectrum of truck operators present in the country and eager-beaver salespeople ready to do deals – perhaps from cheaper brands.

Some customers may be tempted by those offerings. “I believe a lot of our customers are staying loyal to the brand, but some are tempted by the cheaper Chinese products coming into the market. What Isuzu does have in its favour are established and proven low TCO statistics. For any operator, this is highly significant in the long run,” says Brown. 

“Furthermore, there is the proven reliability of our products. Securing the top spot in the cab-over-chassis market in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle segments for 11 consecutive years is testament to our trucks’ reliability and durability. A cheaper purchase price may not translate into an improved TCO over time,” he continues. 

“We fully understand the cost pressures our customers are facing and, even if they leave the fold to buy into something cheaper and then want to return, we will welcome them back with open arms,” adds Brown. “At Isuzu, we remain fully committed to customer service and to delivering the very best products to our customers.” 

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publication in southern Africa.
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