Fo­ton built in Mkon­deni

China’s best-sell­ing small trucks as­sem­bled along­side Pow­er­star work­horses in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

THE builder of Pow­er­star trucks in Mkon­deni is now also as­sem­bling light and medium com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles from Fo­ton.

This fol­lows a joint ven­ture be­tween Fo­ton and Pow­er­star whereby the plant in Mkon­deni will as­sem­ble 3T, 5T, 7T and 8T trucks from Fo­ton, and re­brand these as Pow­er­star trucks.

Bob Wang, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ever Star In­dus­tries, said since 2014 Ever Star In­dus­tries’ fo­cus has been to be­come a on­estop so­lu­tion for trans­port own­ers ac­tive in min­ing and con­struc­tion, where Pow­er­star has been most suc­cess­ful.

This means offering so­lu­tions across the con­struc­tion equip­ment/ve­hi­cle spec­trum, from yel­low equip­ment (Shan­tui bull­doz­ers, front-end load­ers, fork­lifts etc), to heavy and ex­tra-heavy com­mer­cial trucks (Pow­er­star and Pow­er­land truck trac­tors, tip­pers, mix­ers etc) to the colos­sal off-road heavy-duty rigid dump truck (NHL).

With this range on of­fer, ei­ther through agent agree­ment or joint ven­ture, Ever Star In­dus­tries is able to pro­vide more cus­tomers with end-to-end so­lu­tions. Wang is very en­thu­si­as­tic about all the brands in Ever Star In­dus­tries’ port­fo­lio, as he ex­plains the group’s rea­son­ing be­hind the lat­est joint ven­ture.

“Since 2014 we have been in­tro­duc­ing more mod­els to the south­ern African mar­ket. Our lead­ing brand re­mains Pow­er­star with the V3 and VX ranges. How­ever, we found that the range was too nar­row and this was one of the rea­sons we in­tro­duced in 2014 the two Pow­er­land mod­els — a tip­per and a truck trac­tor — to fill the gaps,” Wang said in a state­ment.

“Now we are ex­pand­ing the offering by bring­ing in the medium truck range from Fo­ton.

“Our Pow­er­star trucks are as­sem­bled in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg and all carry the Pow­er­star in­signia.

“The medium ranges from Fo­ton will fol­low suit with the Pow­er­star badg­ing. We are equipped strate­gi­cally to han­dle the broad range of ve­hi­cles, both in the sales arena and the crit­i­cal af­ter­mar­ket ser­vice, re­pair and main­te­nance area,” said Wang.

He said the Pow­er­star trucks have changed the per­cep­tion about any­thing made in China not last­ing in Africa’s de­mand­ing con­di­tions.

“To­day we have many loyal cus­tomers who have been with the Pow­er­star brand only, for over 10 years. Be­cause we man­u­fac­ture lo­cally and are able to source lo­cally, over 20% of parts and com­po­nents, we can of­fer a faster build/de­liv­ery time from or­der book to dealer ve­hi­cle despatch.

“Our af­ter­sales ac­tiv­i­ties of­fer the same ben­e­fit to our cus­tomers, with parts that are read­ily avail­able, mostly im­me­di­ate or overnight sup­ply. We ap­ply that very same su­pe­rior stan­dard for af­ter­sales sup­port, no mat­ter which brand,” says Wang.

Look­ing at fu­ture trad­ing con­di­tions, Wang said South Africa’s econ­omy is not get­ting worse and said he ex­pects to see a slow re­cov­ery in the next two to three years. He also be­lieves com­mod­ity price in­creases will see the min­ing in­dus­try in Africa flour­ish and pro­vide fur­ther ve­hi­cle sales and ser­vice op­por­tu­ni­ties.

A re­cov­er­ing Chi­nese econ­omy will pro­vide fur­ther im­pe­tus for re­source de­mands.

While the tim­ing of this JV may ap­pear out of sync with cur­rent public pes­simist out­look, Wang re­mains cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about South Africa’s trans­port in­dus­try. “We will see much of the same re­sults this year in ve­hi­cle sales as last year, maybe slightly bet­ter.

“Our mar­ket dif­fer­en­tia­tor is a good offering from a wide range of ve­hi­cles to suit any need, good qual­ity prod­ucts with low life­cy­cle cost, and su­pe­rior ser­vice in main­te­nance and re­pair.

“Af­ter es­tab­lish­ing a good rep­u­ta­tion in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozam­bique and Zim­babwe, Wang next plans to also sell trucks Malawi, the DRC and Zam­bia.

“We’ll con­tinue to in­tro­duce more of our own brands from China, like adding prod­ucts to our Pow­er­star brand.

“This will in­crease our own brand rep­re­sen­ta­tion be­yond the cur­rent 50% of our port­fo­lio.

“We will ex­pand our plant from the cur­rent 1 000 units ca­pac­ity to ac­com­mo­date new higher-spec­i­fi­ca­tion ve­hi­cles in fu­ture. While we will main­tain fo­cus on our vol­ume sell­ers, tip­pers and wa­ter tankers, we will be in a new po­si­tion to mag­nify our mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion in min­ing, con­struc­tion as well as a num­ber of other sec­tors,” said Wang.

Rod­ney Se­lesnick, head of truck sales, said the aim is to sell 600 to 650 units for the year, ex­clud­ing sales of the lat­est Pow­er­star FT range of medium-weight trucks, orig­i­nally from Fo­ton. He said fi­nanc­ing re­mained “a chal­lenge”.

“De­spite this the slight growth in new­com­ers in small and medium-sized fleets is com­fort­ing.”

Two chas­sis cab Fo­ton trucks will be of­fered with ei­ther a 7,5 or 8,7T gross ve­hi­cle mass. Both are pow­ered by the Cum­mins ISF 3,8-litre en­gine, 115 kW/500 Nm) cou­pled to a six-speed ZF Eco­l­ite man­ual trans­mis­sion.

A full air-brake sys­tem is fit­ted with an aux­il­iary ex­haust brake. Each model car­ries a 120-litre alu­minium fuel tank.

The as­sem­bly line at Ever Star In­dus­tries in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg started build­ing Fo­ton’s small, rigid trucks along­side the much larger Pow­er­star truck trac­tor shown here.

PHOTOS: ALWYN VILJOEN

Bob Wang, CEO of Ever Star In­dus­tries.

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