Mozambique: Daimler Opens Southern African Regional Centre

Pretoria – The German vehicle company Daimler on Thursday inaugurated a southern African regional centre in Pretoria, which will be responsible for promoting the company’s entire range of commercial vehicles throughout the region, including Mercedes-Benz, FUSO and Freightliner trucks, buses and vans.

The Pretoria centre had already operated for the markets in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. It has now expanded to cover countries further north – Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.

“Opening our new Regional Centre for Southern Africa, we are able to respond even faster to our commercial vehicle customers and their requirements. This will help us to further tap the growth potential of this emerging region,” said Wolfgang Bernhard, the member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Daimler trucks and buses.

Kobus van Zyl, the Executive Director for Daimler trucks and buses Southern Africa, told the ceremony “Having a stronger presence in the southern African markets means that we are able to react faster and be in touch more frequently with our commercial vehicle customers and the various General Distributors in the respective countries. The Regional Centre Southern Africa provides further opportunities for all our commercial vehicle endeavours, including sales, after-sales, marketing, client services and parts.”

“We want to be the first choice commercial vehicle business that makes a real difference to the lives of our stakeholders”, added van Zyl.

The Daimler officials insisted that they will not simply sell trucks and leave – instead, the company’s customers would be guaranteed a full after sales service, including guaranteed availability of spare parts.

Pretoria is one of several Daimler regional centres across the world. The strategy, Bernhard explained, was to bring the company closer to customers and shorten supply chains. It was more effective to run the business from regional centres, rather than from Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart, ensuring that the customers would not have to wait for lengthy periods before their requirements are met.

Earlier this week a regional centre for east, central and west Africa was inaugurated in Nairobi, and a Middle East/ North Africa centre has been operating in Dubai since October. Centres for South Asia, South-east Asia and Latin America will follow. This decentralization, Bernhard believed, would bring the company more in line with its customers’ needs.

Daimler regards Southern Africa as “a promising growth region”. Despite the current economic uncertainties, the company expects the region to grow by 3.75% in 2016, rising to 4.5 per cent a year by 2018-2020. Bernhard pointed out that some countries in the region, notably Mozambique, have much higher growth rates.

Although markets had contracted dramatically in countries such as Brazil (where Daimler sales fell by 50 per cent last year), overall the company was continuing to increase its truck sales. The number of Daimler trucks sold globally rise from 496,000 in 2014 to 502,000 in 2015. The same was not true of Daimler buses – sales fell over the period from 33,200 to 28,100.

In southern Africa, Daimler sold about 5,500 trucks and buses in 2015. Bernhard recognised that the capital cost of new trucks is such that the main market in southern Africa is for used buses. He believed that Daimler can satisfy this market by selling on leased vehicles once the leases have expired. That is, a customer leases a truck for four years, during which time it remains Daimler property. It can then be sold and the buyer will continue to enjoy the company’s support in terms of servicing and spare parts.

Bernhard said Daimler is currently the leading truck supplies in Europe, number two in Latin America, number three in Japan and number four in India. As for Africa, he simply said that Daimler is “one of the leading suppliers”. With the regional centre, he expected sales to rise, but declined to set a target.