Expanded footprint for Southern African unit of Daimler Trucks & Buses

11th March 2016 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) has expanded its area of responsibility – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia and Lesotho – to also include Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia, through the formation of the Regional Centre for Southern Africa.

Before January 1, these markets were the responsibility of Daimler’s office in Stuttgart, Germany, says DTBSA executive director Kobus van Zyl.

The regional centre will be responsible for the sales and after-sales of Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses, Fuso trucks and buses, Freightliner trucks, Western Star trucks and Mercedes-Benz vans in the region, with used trucks to become a growing business.

Daimler member of the board responsible for trucks and buses Dr Wolfgang Bernhard believes the formation of the centre will drive sales growth for the German manufacturer in the region.

He says Daimler wants regions managed by people “reading the same newspapers as our customers”, and living “in the same time zones as our customers”.

“We look forward to a bright future in the region.”

Bernhard notes that the new centre is more an investment in human capital than in brick and mortar, in terms of training new service technicians, for example.

Van Zyl is optimistic that the economic growth forecast for the new nine-country region will prove more positive than for most of the globe up to 2020, with economic growth to stimulate infrastructure expansion, which, in turn, will stimulate truck sales.

He also believes that the centre will benefit from the expansion of South African businesses into Southern Africa, with DTBSA’s customers reaping the rewards of the increased availabi- lity of parts and service facilities in the region.

Daimler sold around 5 500 trucks, buses and vans in the nine-country region last year, with Van Zyl hopeful of doubling sales in the four new countries in the next two years.

Bernhard says the region can look forward to “a number of new products”, which he describes as “robust, affordable and tough”.

The aim is for all of the region’s product requirements to be assembled at DTBSA’s East London plant, even if some trucks may initially enter the market as completely built-up units, he adds.

DTBSA assembled around 4 500 trucks last year.

Van Zyl confirms that the region can expect a “wave of new products in the next five years”, with Daimler’s plant in India providing “huge opportunities” for new product introductions.

The Regional Centre for Southern Africa is the third of six regional Daimler centres to open its doors recently.

The Regional Centre for East, Central and West Africa has already started operations. This centre is based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Similar bases will follow for South Asia, South-East Asia and Latin America within the next few months.

In the past, Daimler managed all these regions primarily from Stuttgart.