Volvo Trucks is seeking increasing synergies in South Africa between its three truck brands, namely UD Trucks, Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks, says newly appointed Volvo Trucks Southern Africa regional president Torbjörn Christensson.
“My role is new. I’m in charge of all three brands in South Africa. This includes South Africa and 17 exports markets,” he tells Engineering News Online.
The three local MDs of UD Trucks, Volvo Trucks and Renault Trucks all now report to Christensson, in a new regional structure set up to push sales in Southern Africa.
Christensson is quick to point out, though, that Volvo Trucks does not want to lose the independent identity of the three brands under its control, emphasising that South African customers will “not even notice the change” as the brands “increase cooperation behind the scenes”.
“The brands will not merge. Each brand will be responsible for their own sales and service functions. They must look after their own customers.
“We took everything out that is not customer-focused and made it a shared function.”
These shared functions include legal services, finance, business development, human resources and information technology.
UD Trucks’ assembly plant, in Rosslyn, as well as Volvo’s plant, in Durban, remain unaffected by the structural changes, “in the short term”, says Christensson. “But, we are revising our parts distribution setup. We currently have one parts centre in Rosslyn and one in Johannesburg.”
As for the various brands’ dealer networks, Christensson says there will be “no major changes”.
“On a case-by-case basis we may decide to share some facilities, if it is advantageous to the group. This will be done carefully, and to the benefit of the customer.”
Christensson says UD Trucks has a “good footprint” in South Africa, while Volvo may require more dealers in the “right places”.
He adds that the company is not currently seeking to curb staff numbers.
Christensson says all the structural changes will afford Volvo a yearly “double-digit saving” in rands. It will also help the group as it seeks a bigger slice of the African truck market.
Christensson expects the three brands to export 400 built-in-South-Africa, right-hand-drive trucks into their 17 African export markets this year, growing to 800 in 2013.
“If you look at the number of trucks per thousand people in the region, there is tremendous potential in these markets. We see double-digit growth there.”
Again, says Christensson, the three brands will not merge their footprints in Africa, and will only share some facilities and/or importers where it makes economic sense.
“We have 43 importer agreements in the 18 markets [South Africa included].”
Christensson says he believes the three brands will be able to compete next to each other in the new structure, more than head-to-head.
“We have a good combination of product, with not much overlap.”
He says UD Trucks offers a more value-driven product, and that it has a specific focus on smaller trucks – a market in which Volvo does not compete. Renault Trucks has a construction focus, while Volvo participates largely in the long-haul market.