Foton built in Mkondeni
China’s best-selling small trucks assembled alongside Powerstar workhorses in Pietermaritzburg
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.
Bob Wang, CEO of Ever Star Industries.