Rein­vig­o­rat­ing growth with three trucks suited for Africa con­di­tions

NEW MOD­ELS

Business Day - Motor News - - COMMERCIAL NEWS - Ler­ato Matebese

Tata Trucks SA un­veiled the lat­est ad­di­tions to its truck range in the form of the Ul­tra line-up at the Fu­tur­oad Expo in Jo­han­nes­burg.

The lat­est mod­els, which will be built at the com­pany’s Ross­lyn plant in Tsh­wane, will com­prise three model de­riv­a­tives. These are the Ul­tra 814 (4.5T), Ul­tra 1014 (5.5T) and Ul­tra 1418 (7.5T) with the fig­ure in brack­ets de­not­ing the max­i­mum ton­nage that the re­spec­tive mod­els are rated to carry.

“The Tata Ul­tra range is a re­sult of ex­ten­sive feed­back from cus­tomers in the South African mar­ket and we are proud to in­tro­duce this pi­o­neer­ing range of trucks here in SA. The Tata Ul­tra 814 is the first vari­ant to be launched in SA and we are look­ing for­ward to launch­ing the Ul­tra 1014 and the AMT (au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sion) ver­sions of both mod­els in the New Year,” says Ru­drarup Maitra, vi­cepres­i­dent, com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles, in­ter­na­tional busi­ness.

The mod­els are said to cater for the small to medium-size busi­ness owner look­ing for a ca­pa­ble, re­li­able, ef­fi­cient and, most im­por­tantly, cost-ef­fec­tive busi­ness vehicle. All mod­els are pow­ered by a 3.0l, com­mon-rail diesel en­gine with 103kW at 2,600r/min and 390Nm avail­able between 1,400 and 2,600r/min. All mod­els come with a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion for now.

TWO LENGTHS

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany, one of the most ver­sa­tile as­pects of the Ul­tra range is that it is avail­able in two deck lengths — 4.3m and 5.2m — to suit var­i­ous busi­ness needs. The new Ul­tra range will es­sen­tially sit just above the Prima range of trucks, which was launched in 2014.

We also had the op­por­tu­nity to sit down with a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of Tata Trucks dur­ing the launch event to find out more about the out­fit’s fu­ture plans.

Len Brand, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and head of dis­tri­bu­tion, has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­dus­try as he also counts for­merly be­ing the MD of John Deere SA. He said the com­pany is go­ing through a re­vamp­ing of its en­tire prod­uct range.

The com­pany moved 900 units in 2016, which is de­cid­edly be­low par of most competitors, but Brand says that the plan is to have grad­ual growth and he said the com­pany’s strat­egy of achiev­ing 1,500 units in 2017 is firmly on course.

Brand said the com­pany’s range of trucks are built for rugged, African con­di­tions and these have proven to be re­li­able and, as a re­sult, there has been an up­take in the num­ber of re­peat buy­ers in re­cent times. One of the big­gest chal­lenges, said Brand, is the small dealer foot­print of only 18 deal­ers across the coun­try. To counter this de­fi­ciency the com­pany has re­sorted to in­vest­ing its own re­sources to­wards ex­pand­ing its dealer foot­print.

BRAND LAUNCH

In ad­di­tion, the com­pany is also plan­ning to launch the Dae­woo Trucks and Buses brand, which is a wholly owned sub­sidiary of the Tata Group. This will drive growth in both the ex­tra heavy com­mer­cial vehicle seg­ment and the bus seg­ment.

While the com­pany was not at lib­erty to ex­pand on the plans in this re­gard, this will with­out doubt ex­pand the group’s mar­ket share in the lo­cal con­text.

With Tata Trucks hav­ing a pres­ence in SA since 1997 — hav­ing started its trade on the con­ti­nent in Zam­bia in 1977 — the com­pany says it will con­tinue to in­vest both in SA and the rest of the con­ti­nent, which bodes well for the in­dus­try.

The new Tata Ul­tra will cater for the small to medium-size busi­ness owner look­ing for a re­li­able and ef­fi­cient busi­ness vehicle.

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