Merc lights it up
Fleet operators celebrate success with the Daimler Group
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.
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.