Volvo in­vest­ing in peo­ple to build on market share

The Witness - Wheels - - TRENDS -

THE pres­i­dent of the Volvo Group’s trucks and buses in south­ern Africa, Tor­b­jörn Chris­tens­son, is very bullish on South Africa’s econ­omy in the year ahead.

Speak­ing at the an­nual busi­ness re­view of Volvo com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles in Johannesburg re­cently, Chris­tens­son told Wheels the first month of the year had al­ready seen a rise in or­ders of es­pe­cially min­ing trucks.

Next Volvo Group South­ern Africa ex­pects to grow its market share in Africa dur­ing 2017 and be­yond, through an en­hanced foot­print that will bring world­class qual­ity prod­ucts and sup­port right to cus­tomers’ doorsteps. The com­pany al­ready has 30 dealer sites across south­ern and eastern Africa, with new sites in Al­rode and An­gola com­pleted in 2016 and fully op­er­a­tional.

New fa­cil­i­ties are also cur­rently be­ing de­vel­oped in Pine­town, Port El­iz­a­beth, Kenya and Zam­bia. Volvo also has rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fices in Zam­bia, Ethiopia, East Africa and An­gola to bring sup­port closer to cus­tomers in those re­gions.

Lo­cally, Volvo Group is rep­re­sented by Volvo Trucks, Volvo Bus, Volvo Penta as well as the UD Trucks brand.

More than a thou­sand staff are em­ployed by Volvo Group in south­ern and eastern Africa through var­i­ous rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fices, brand head­quar­ters, as well as two fac­to­ries in Dur­ban and Ross­lyn, shared back of­fice sup­port and a re­gional dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre for parts.

“The com­pany com­bines the best of two worlds: syn­er­gies by hav­ing global or­gan­i­sa­tions for prod­uct de­vel­op­ment, man­u­fac­tur­ing, and pur­chas­ing but still clear lead­er­ship and re­spon­si­bil­ity for each brand to make sure that cus­tomer needs are un­der­stood and met through­out the en­tire or­gan­i­sa­tion,” said Tor­b­jörn Chris­tens­son, pres­i­dent of Volvo Group South­ern Africa.

He said the com­pany is also con­stantly ex­plor­ing ways to de­velop and im­prove the way they sup­port their cus­tomers.

“There are high market de­mands on new fi­nan­cial so­lu­tions and we are there­fore de­vel­op­ing fi­nan­cial so­lu­tions as part of our to­tal of­fer­ing. We should be able to make some an­nounce­ments in this re­gard dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017,” ex­plained Chris­tens­son.

Volvo Trucks South­ern Africa’s 360° cus­tomer ser­vice strat­egy has seen its CSI rat­ings im­prove sig­nif­i­cantly over the past year. In the sales cat­e­gory, Volvo Trucks moved from third to first po­si­tion with a 98,5% cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion rat­ing.

Its ser­vice score also im­proved to 94,86% mov­ing the brand from 12th to fourth, while parts CSI im­proved to 94,46% from eight to fourth po­si­tion. The com­bined scores makes Volvo Trucks the lead­ing brand in the Euro­pean com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle seg­ment.

“We may do busi­ness with other com­pa­nies, but peo­ple make the de­ci­sions. Trust and re­la­tions are as im­por­tant as the to­tal of­fer. We have branded prod­ucts and ser­vices and it is with these and our rep­re­sen­ta­tives that our cus­tomers form re­la­tions. In the end, by bring­ing to­gether the best of ev­ery­thing, from the of­fer to the re­la­tion­ship, our cus­tomers will ul­ti­mately reap the re­wards of a prof­itable and suc­cess­ful busi­ness,” said Chris­tens­son.

As part of its com­mit­ment to road and driver safety, new safety fea­tures will be in­tro­duced on the Volvo Trucks Ex­tra Heavy Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cle range lo­cally, rang­ing from adap­tive cruise con­trol with for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing and emer­gency brak­ing, lane keep­ing and lane sup­port, as well as driver alert sup­port — all aimed at as­sist­ing the driver to op­er­ate the ve­hi­cle safely and re­spon­si­bly.

These new “safety” trucks will be as­sem­bled by Volvo Trucks at its Dur­ban fac­tory, which was re­cently ren­o­vated at a cost of over R6,5 mil­lion to en­able, among oth­ers, the as­sem­bly of these spe­cialised units.

Volvo Trucks last year sold of 1 957 units for a 15,6% market share of the lo­cal com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle marke. Volvo Bus South Africa in­creased its market share on rear en­gine buses to 27% and is fore­cast­ing a to­tal market share of be­tween eight per­cent and 10%.

The com­pany in­vested R25 mil­lion in 2 308 peo­ple dur­ing 2016 in its Diesel Tech­ni­cian Ap­pren­tice­ship Pro­gramme, learn­er­ships and bur­saries.

Volvo has also re­newed its com­mit­ment to the NGO Star for Life, in­vest­ing R8,1 mil­lion into the lives of pupis at 17 schools in Gaut­eng and KZN.

— Wheels Re­porter.

PHOTO: ALWYN VILJOEN

The fu­ture is so bright, Tor­b­jörn Chris­tens­son, pres­i­dent of Volvo Group South­ern Africa, has to wear shades.

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