Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) bus and coach divisional manager Jan Aichinger has lowered his forecast for the 2009 bus market from the 3 000 units he expected last year, to between 1 700 and 2 000 units.
“The tenders for the various bus rapid transit (BRT) systems and government’s 2010 FIFA World Cup tender are running later than we expected.
“It seems the bulk of the volume will shift from 2009 to 2010,” says Aichinger.
“We are committed to local production,” he adds. “With a six-month lead time for South African production, it isn’t too late yet to fill most of the tender requirements with locally produced buses.
“The South African new bus market in 2008 sold around 1 500 units. Of these, around 1 200 were commuter buses, and 150 luxury coaches,” says Aichinger.
MBSA has tendered for all government tenders, including the 1 422 units requested by the national Department of Transport for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. All the company’s offers include financing of the vehicles, maintenance contracts and fleet management services.
“Mercedes-Benz Finance is in a favourable position to provide funding for big tenders, which we certainly see as a competitive advantage,” notes Aichinger.
MBSA Bus Plant
MBSA has taken responsibility for the bus market in all right-hand-drive countries in Southern Africa as from this year, notes Aichinger.
“This is because we are the only Mercedes-Benz company in the region with the capacity to assemble buses, and we want to use this capacity for the Southern African market.”
Last year, MBSA’s bus plant had the capacity to produce 350 buses a year, and it assembled only two bus model types.
However, the plant has now been expanded to a capacity of 800 to 840 vehicles a year, pro- ducing seven models – with the most notable new additions being two articulated models (roughly double the length of a standard bus), and a specialised BRT bus.
This comes as the company sees not only the local bus mar- ket, but also the African public transport market expanding.
Tanzania and Nigeria are, for example, planning BRT systems.