Scania well-geared for 2020

New products, customised support services and a customer-centric approach have laid the foundations for Scania South Africa to boost its position as one of southern Africa’s most respected and efficient transport providers 

While 2019 proved to be a rewarding year for Scania Southern Africa, this year promises to be even better thanks to increasing demand for the brand’s recently introduced Next Truck Generation (NTG) models, and because customer support systems have been enhanced to deliver maximum gains for transport operators.

“At Scania, our main focus is always to provide our customers with the correct tools they need to achieve profitability in their businesses. In 2019 we expanded our focus to become even better at offering customised support services,” says Nomonde Kweyi, the company’s general manager for marketing and communications.

In Scania’s view, the latest NTG product range – combined with the related, sustainable transport solutions it has developed – represents a major step forward for the industry. “The importance of being able to design a vehicle that can be completely optimised to meet individual customer needs for almost any transport application – and then support both its ownership and use with aftersales solutions such as flexible maintenance contracts and connected service options – is difficult to overestimate in today’s competitive world,” Kweyi says.

The company’s starting point in providing sustainable business solutions is based on total operating economy (TOE), a departure from the traditional model of total cost of ownership (TCO). The difference between the two is that TOE factors into the equation much more than simply the costs of buying and running a vehicle.

“The aim is to help customers achieve maximum return on their investment. The optimised solutions offered by our toolbox are the result of several years’ work compiling, analysing and consolidating knowledge, insights and needs. The result is better support and opportunities for our customers, with every facet of the toolbox aimed at maximising their profitability,” Kweyi continues.

With the increasing demand for vehicles in the NTG range, the 2020 order book is filling up fast. The models in this range have attracted plenty of attention due to their leading levels of refinement, outstanding fuel economy and spacious, tastefully trimmed cabins – all of which are the result of the biggest investment Scania has made globally in product development in its 125-year history.

“Interest in the NTG range has been remarkable,” Kweyi says. “Scania Southern Africa has seen a rapid uptake of the vehicles across all regions in both local and export markets. Based on customer feedback, a key driver of the uptake is fuel efficiency, which has in some instances surpassed projections. As a result, we expect to improve our sales targets for the year and increase our market share, despite the generally challenging nature of the truck market.”

In terms of customer testimonials received recently by the company, Reinhardt van Deventer from Transtech Logistics has this to say: “Our fleet operates cross-border, running tautliners, flat decks and refrigerated trailers. I’m extremely happy with the new G460, particularly its fuel economy and power. It’s also extremely comfortable, so much so that I’m considering selling my car and commuting in a G460.”

On that point, Do Light Trucking’s Kagiso Mukwevho describes the comfort factor in the cabs of NTG derivatives as next-level. “My drivers will love the new Scania. My fleet has old Scania R- and G-Series models and they do well on our cross-border routes to Zimbabwe. These Next Generation beauties will certainly do that much better and I’m looking forward to introducing them to my fleet.”

Though reliability is what makes Scania so successful in the long-haul sector, NTG models feature made-to-order features and support systems that have been designed to optimise all aspects of vehicle performance, no matter under which conditions the trucks operate.

“The right selection of supportive solutions is aimed at helping long-haul operators to understand the true meaning of having a truck specially tailored for their particular businesses, providing maximum gain with minimum effort,” says Kweyi.

Among the tailor-made solutions is the Scania Retarder that can be fitted to gearboxes across the range. In conjunction with an exhaust brake, the Retarder greatly improves deceleration efficiency by interacting with the vehicle’s cruise-control system, exhaust brake and wheel brakes to provide total downhill speed control.

Also available is the latest version of Scania Opticruise – one of the trucking world’s first automated gear-changing systems, which has been perfected to become among the smoothest and smartest systems on the market.

Features that Opticruise boasts include a driver interface with all functions for gear changing and retarder control integrated in a steering-wheel lever; an adaptive gear-shift strategy based on style of driving, load and inclination of the road; and comprehensive electronic protection to keep clutch wear to a minimum.

In terms of product development, it’s not only on the trucking side of the business that Scania has upped its support system approach – the company’s bus and coach division, which is equally customer-centred and solutions orientated, has adopted a similar stance, introducing Opticruise transmission for derivatives in its F310 and F360 line-ups, for instance.

“Customers have been requesting a solution that offers improved safety, better fuel consumption and better ergonomics,” says Alan Hugo, Scania Southern Africa’s general manager, bus and coach. “The Opticruise gearbox provides the answers – always operating in the optimal rev band; tried and tested as far as fuel consumption is concerned, returning exceptionally good figures; and, from an operational perspective, offering additional comfort and convenience.”

Hugo says Scania’s success in the bus and coach market during 2019 came as a result of the sales team expanding its business approach in line with the company’s value-driven, customer-centric initiatives. “Due to macro-economic issues, the export market was not at its peak, however, Scania managed to almost double its consolidated sales target as a result of achieving fantastic volumes and market share in Namibia and Botswana.”

The company’s services division, too, has implemented numerous changes in customer interest, with concepts such as flexible maintenance plans being introduced to support NTG models, along with service intervals that are designed to reduce downtime. Another new feature involves the introduction of remote workshops, which puts technicians in the field to serve transient customers along popular routes.

Mark Erasmus, Scania Southern Africa’s general manager, services, says the changes are aimed making the company more adept at quickly and efficiently meeting customer needs, offering greater flexibility in terms of pricing, labour hours and servicing convenience. “Investing in this area will continue to be a focus for 2020,” he says. “The company is considering offering similar contracts on used vehicles and is also looking to create a loyalty programme for parts.”

In all, by pioneering aspects of the transport industry from multiple focus points, Scania Southern Africa believes that 2020 will see the company maintain the positive trajectory that has helped to make it one of southern Africa’s most respected and efficient transport providers.

Fabio Souza, the company’s recently appointed managing director – who took office in November following six years as service director at Scania Brazil – sees parallels in South Africa’s sluggish economy with conditions in other countries in which he has worked for the brand.

“All regions experience bumpy periods. In my experience, tough environments are also full of opportunities. I know I have a very good team in place at Scania Southern Africa. Through our depth of knowledge and expertise, my intention is to continue to bring to our customers the best possible solutions to their problems. If I deliver, they will be happy. In that way, Scania’s growth in the market will be as a consequence of a job well done,” he says.

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