Powerstar shines bright in Southern Africa

Powerstar shines bright in Southern Africa

Since its inception 11 years ago, Ever Star Industries (ESI) has forged a solid reputation for offering excellent products at a reasonable price. In Southern Africa, this is exemplified by the company’s Powerstar brand. ROWAN WATT-PRINGLE finds out more.

Based on the Chinese Beiben vehicle range, Powerstar is a 100% Southern African brand. One of the first Chinese heavy commercial vehicle brands to become available in South Africa, it has since added medium and heavy category trucks from Foton – the Powerstar FT range of vehicles.

“Powerstar has made its name as an affordable, robust, and reliable workhorse in the mining and construction sectors,” says Mike Hawkins, Senior Manager: Commercial (Powerstar). “We have regularly been a top performer in the extra-heavy tipper segment and are proud to still be leaders in this market, while of late we have also been enjoying success with our range of water tankers.”

Hawkins – who has almost four decades of sales and management experience, including 17 years in truck sales – points to reliability, cost of ownership, ease of maintenance, and excellent resale values as some of the foundations of Powerstar’s success in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). “We have a truck model to meet your every need and are rapidly expanding our product range to become a one-stop shop for commercial vehicles and yellow equipment,” he explains.

Powerstar vehicles are also backed up by an enthusiastic and competent regional dealer network, with 14 “full” (sales & service) dealers and six “service only” dealers across South Africa, as well as six “full” and four “service only” cross-border dealers.

Powerstar has made its name in the construction sector, which has been under pressure in recent years, with 2021 in particular seeing a downturn driven by the ongoing worldwide pandemic. “Sales for 2021 were slightly down on the previous year, due mainly to the tough economic climate and a shortage of stock, but despite this we are optimistic for 2022,” says Hawkins. This optimism is based in large part on the progress being made with the Powerstar V3 range of long-haul trucks, including the flagship Powerstar V3 2646 Truck Tractor.

While Hawkins notes that the V3 range has been somewhat slow to make an impact on the long-haul segment, he says that this has in large part been down to some specification limitations which have now been addressed. “We opted for a number of upgrades in order to improve reliability and lower operating costs, to offer our clients better value for money,” he says. “The V3 2646 offers exceptional value in its segment; within this year, we will introduce the next-generation automated manual transmission (AMT) with power take-off (PTO) capabilities, as well as increasing our service intervals and offering optional maintenance plans.”

While the V3 range is still in the early stages of its rollout to the long-haul sector, Hawkins points to one substantial deal as a sign of things to come. “One operator purchased 300 of our V3 trucks and is running them in a cross-border logistics operation. Feedback from the operator and from a warranty perspective has been extremely positive,” he says, adding, “It is our hope that these 300 vehicles will also serve as great exposure on the roads for the Powerstar brand, as well as the V3 model itself.”

The pandemic has not had a major impact on the brand’s product implementation, with Hawkins noting that new products were launched last year, albeit on a smaller scale than usual. “We had sufficient levels of stock to meet the demands associated with the pandemic. We kept all functions running, due to our relationship with many essential service clients who required our ongoing assistance to service the country’s pandemic needs,” he says.

At the same time, Hawkins is keenly aware that customers have faced numerous challenges including a local and global economic downturn, as well as the loss of trained and experienced staff due to the pandemic. Powerstar has for this reason offered select customers payment terms, although this has been the exception rather than the rule. “While staffing and the pandemic are not our core focuses, we did supply essential protective personal equipment (PPE) to our dealers and some customers during this time,” he says. “By far the biggest help we can provide to our customers, however, is cost of ownership and product reliability. We offer great vehicles at a very competitive price, while in a recent parts survey, we had little to no competition in terms of our parts supply and the cost thereof.”

Looking to the future, ESI is very optimistic because Powerstar has the means to upgrade its technology should this be required. “Powerstar has a very bright future. This year we will be testing and hopefully introducing new derivatives to the existing model range, as well as showcasing various new model changes to the Powerstar FT. We also have plans to expand our range of medium and heavy commercial vehicles,” says Hawkins.

He believes that a tough economic climate can actually work in the brand’s favour, as clients become far more cost-conscious, searching for value-added products at the right price: “For operators who either cannot afford to buy new or are holding back on purchases, I think that the Powerstar brand is a ‘no-brainer’: we can both service and maintain our vehicles at prices that undercut many a competitor, we honour all our warranties and often assist customers in this regard even when this is no longer obligatory, and we have some exciting product offering developments in store over the short- to medium-term. Even if you eventually decide to purchase other brands, you would be doing your business a grave injustice by not at least testing and considering our products at the same time.”

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