Merc lights it up

Fleet op­er­a­tors cel­e­brate suc­cess with the Daim­ler Group

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

MERCEDES-BENZ on Mon­day for­mally an­nounced its big­gest deal yet, with 300 trucks worth close to half a bil­lion rands sold to Im­pe­rial Lo­gis­tics.

Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Clin­ton Sav­age, said that the deal is the sin­gle big­gest deal yet for the group, which is why Im­pe­rial Lo­gis­tics was judged most wor­thy, from clients in 150 coun­tries, to re­ceive the mil­lionth truck built in Ger­many.

To mark the group’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the deal and for­mally hand over the mil­lionth Ac­tros truck trac­tor pro­duced in Ger­many, clients and me­dia were in­vited to a week-long cel­e­bra­tion of the power of im­pos­si­bil­i­ties on the banks of the Vaal River in Van­der­b­jil­park.

A sun­set cruise down the river be­tween the Free State and Gaut­eng was fol­lowed by he­li­copter flips to the FNB Sta­dium, where a mas­sive laser light show recre­ated seem­ingly three-di­men­sional images of trucks, an­i­mals — even a shark eat­ing one of sev­eral parachutists as he landed in the dark.

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Daim­ler Trucks and Buses, Kobus van Zyl, ex­plained the power of im­pos­si­bil­i­ties con­cept by re­fer­ring to var­i­ous high­lights in the group’s re­cent his­tory. Th­ese in­clude the group in­tro­duc­ing leased fi­nanc­ing and then un­der­writ­ing over a bil­lion rand for cars and trucks in Oc­to­ber last year, and sur­pris­ing the geeks in Ger­many by mak­ing telem­at­ics work in Africa.

Van Zyl said that when South Africa asked for the group’s telem­atic sys­tem called Fleet­board, Ger­many sug­gested ping­ing a truck ev­ery half hour.

“In this time a truck can be stolen twice in Africa! Now one of our deal­ers shows real-time diesel con­sump­tion across the fleet on a screen, to show clients how Fleet­board con­stantly mon­i­tors each truck,” said Van Zyl.

He re­called how it snowed in Pre­to­ria when the group launched a used-truck di­vi­sion, which now sells over 700 trucks a year, about a third of which go north to other African states.

Van Zyl told Wheels that this per­cent­age will im­prove, as Africa is a very im­por­tant sales chan­nel for all the brands sold by the group, namely Fuso, Freight­liner, Western Star and Merc trucks.

An­other mile­stone was the in­tro­duc­tion of Amer­i­can-style “nose trucks”, which fleet op­er­a­tors said were too long for South Africa’s leg­is­la­tion, but which now dom­i­nate the truck re­cov­ery scene and pull the longest road trains in Africa at Richards Bay Min­er­als.

The re­cent launch of the first medium trucks built in Daim­ler’s new plant In­dia, which is on par with any fac­tory in Ger­many, showed an­other im­pos­si­ble made pos­si­ble.

The many pas­sen­gers us­ing the Gau­train buses, all of which are build by Mercedes-Benz, is an­other suc­cess that the doubters never saw com­ing.

Van Zyl added that Daim­ler South Africa is ob­vi­ously about mak­ing sales, but the process of mak­ing money starts by mak­ing magic with the best peo­ple.

“We don’t want to sell the most trucks, we want to make a dif­fer­ence in the lives of our stake­hold­ers,” said Van Zyl. — WR.

PHOTO: AL­WYN VILJOEN

Event co-or­di­na­tor Melissa Klein pre­pares for the first day of a week-long truck­ing party on the banks of the Vaal River, where Mercedes-Benz this week treated clients and for­mally handed the mil­lionth Ac­tros truck trac­tor (in the back­ground) made in Ger­many to Im­pe­rial Lo­gis­tics, which is Merc’s most wor­thy client in 150 coun­tries.

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