The Sitrak brand, launched by China’s Sinotruk and German truck manufacturer MAN in 2011, will become available in South Africa once MAN is satisfied with the product’s quality, says MAN Truck & Bus executive board member for marketing, sales and service Dr Frank Hiller.
MAN has a 25% share, plus a licence agreement with Sinotruk, acquired wfor the purpose of building a cost-efficient truck, based on MAN Technology, for the local Chinese market, as well as other emerging markets, he notes.
However, there is currently no clear roll-out programme for the Sitrak, as MAN has “tough demands on a quality level”.
“It’s taking a little bit longer than we thought,” adds Hiller.
“A key issue for us is reliability. You need to have the backup of a network first, offering spare parts, and then you can launch the truck,” explains MAN Truck & Bus senior VP sales Thomas Hemmerich.
Should the Sitrak become available in South Africa, current planning is for the brand to be sold through a secondary, separate dealer network.
“Where MAN is launched already, we will have two dealer networks,” notes Hemmerich.
Hiller says the Sitrak is aimed at buyers in the African, Middle Eastern, Russian and Asian markets.
Hemmerich says it is not expected that the Sitrak will jeopardise MAN’s other low-cost truck brand, the CLA, developed in India.
The CLA, with its low maximum power of 280 hp, services different markets, such as construction, to the higher-power Sitrak, starting at 400 hp, says Hemmerich.
Hiller emphasises that South Africa is an important market to the German truck and bus manufacturer.
“We have two production sites there. We have made a big investment, and the market is running reasonably okay.
“Conditions in South Africa are tough for trucks. If a truck works in South Africa, it will work everywhere.”
AFRICAN MARKET TO GROW IN 2013
Hemmerich notes that Africa offers “huge potential” for MAN’s “entire product range”.
Lucrative African markets include Ghana, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Kenya.
MAN Truck & Bus sales region Middle East and Africa CEO Marcus Geyer says MAN sales in all of Africa reached roughly 3 850 units in 2011, and that it is expected to grow to 5 000 units in 2012.
The market for 2013 is anticipated to reach around 5 900 units.
Geyer says the Sitrak “could be a big seller in Africa”, once the new brand “get its act together”.
Africa is of growing importance to MAN, he adds. It constitutes around 7% to 8% of global MAN sales.
“Sales are growing in Africa, while the European market is shrinking.”
* All new MAN products sold in South Africa should soon carry the new-look MAN lion on their grilles, now baring its teeth to competitors.
* * Venter spoke to Hiller, Hemmerich and Geyer at the recent IAA Commercial Vehicles fair, held in Germany.