Daewoo roars into town!

The Koreans are coming! Expect to see lots of Daewoo-badged trucks on our roads soon! 

Daewoo Trucks has introduced the new-generation Maximus 6×4 truck tractor in South Africa. This model is ergonomically and aesthetically designed and has been well received by the early adopters.

With a revenue of US$ 1 billion (R11,9 billion), Daewoo Trucks – a heavy and extra-heavy truck manufacturer – is based in South Korea with an assembly plant in Gunsan, South Korea. In addition, the company assembles trucks in South Africa, Kenya, Algeria, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Produced since 1972, Daewoo trucks are known for their high quality, reliability and durability at a lower lifecycle cost. Daewoo trucks are sold in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Russia/Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and South America.

Daewoo Trucks has been present in South Africa since 2005 when Tata Automobile Corporation (SA) – or TACSA – part of Tata International Ltd (through Tata Africa Holdings) – first started importing these vehicles under the Novus range of products. Tata International, through its subsidiaries, has operations in 13 countries in Africa. This means that a cross-border warranty and support are in place. Over 4 000 Daewoo vehicles have been sold in South Africa and most of these are still in operation – 13 years later. The feedback on these vehicles was extremely positive – customers reported that they were both robust and durable.

According to Harneet Luther, executive director of TACSA, and Prashant Shukla, head – Daewoo – sales, marketing and dealer development at TACSA, a separate Daewoo division has now been created within TACSA – headed by Shukla. Selected Tata dealers will sell the Daewoo trucks, while additional investors are being sought.

The decision has now been made to “launch” (so to speak) the Daewoo brand in South Africa. “This brand speaks to what we’re all about as a company. We’re offering trucks with a world-class drivetrain, Korean craftsmanship and the commitment from TACSA in terms of aftersales support.

“The vision of Daewoo is customer centricity, and this is a vision that is shared by Tata. We have been present in this country for more than 20 years. We understand the South African market and that of the neighbouring countries,” Shukla continues.

Two Daewoo ranges will be sold in South Africa – Novus and Maximus. The former comprises 6×4 tippers, the K5MVF six-cube mixers and rigids. The latter comprises a magnificent 6×4, the KL3TX. All the vehicles, barring the mixer, will be assembled locally in Rosslyn. A bus will be launched in the latter half of 2018, while a 15-t gross vehicle mass (GVM) heavy commercial vehicle will come in 2019. The M2SEF 4×2 is also available on special order.

While all the vehicles will be exceptional in their own right, the Maximus 6×4 truck tractor is undoubtedly the star of the show. It features the Cummins ISX 358 kW (480 hp)/2 509 Nm Euro-3 engine and customers can choose between an automated 18-speed Eaton or 12-speed ZF gearbox.

With major components coming from the United States (US) and Germany coupled with Korean craftsmanship, the market can expect a sturdy, quality product that will perform efficiently and last for a long time. The tractor chassis frame is made using the high-tensile strength ATOS-80 steel, which is the strongest auto grade steel in use worldwide.

“This is a world-renowned drivetrain. Naturally, the vehicle complies with all local safety requirements, such as the statutory fitment of ABS. The walk-through cab has been crash tested and it passed with flying colours. The vehicle also features a sleeper cab,” reports Shukla.

The Maximus tractor has been launched in South Africa after two years of rigorous road trials under real-time conditions across all major routes (such as Johannesburg to Durban, Cape Town and Nelspruit). “The vehicles were run for over 200 000 km, with encouraging results in terms of reliability, fuel efficiency and maintenance costs. It was therefore decided to introduce the product to the market,” says Luther.

Harneet Luther (left) and Prashant Shukla are upbeat about prospects for Daewoo in South Africa.

Customer service will be top-end, too. “The service team has been trained in Korea and we have trained our workshops around the country. We have identified the major routes on which our customers are running and we are ensuring that the workshops en route are upgraded. We are also working on some very special financing solutions, which will be announced soon,” says Shukla.

To support the customers, 24-hour roadside assistance is available. “We also have backup units that can be supplied to customers in time-sensitive situations (refrigerated transport, for instance) should there be a technical problem with one of our trucks.

“We will also be providing our own on-site repair vehicles … three mobile workshops are in the planning stages,” reveals Luther. The workshops have trained mechanics from Daewoo, Doosan, Cummins, Eaton and ZF.

TACSA has a huge warehouse, which is very well stocked with spare parts. “We want to make the Daewoo product and the brand a success in South Africa. It’s all about uptime, so parts must be readily available,” Shukla stresses.

There’s a training centre at the TACSA head office in Johannesburg, which will also be used for training on the Daewoo range. “We’re upscaling the skills sets of the technicians and drivers for free. We are a business partner; we’re not just a seller of trucks. This has long been our strength,” Luther explains.

In addition to the Daewoo drivers receiving training, they can also be accompanied for the first load if required. “We want to ensure that the operators and drivers have total peace of mind. We’re very happy to provide this value-added service,” he elaborates.

Cummins, Eaton and ZF in South Africa will also support the new entrant. “We are able to benefit from their networks in South Africa, too. Accordingly, our response time – in terms of aftersales support – will be nothing less than superb,” Shukla maintains.

Warranties are competitive. “We will offer a four-year/600 000 km warranty on the drivetrain for Maximus only and a first-year unlimited kilometre warranty. With the tippers and mixers, we are offering a one-year/100 000 km standard warranty and a two-year/160 000 km warranty on the drivetrain,” says Shukla.

“In addition, in support of our valued customers, the labour on scheduled servicing of tippers and mixers is free of charge at authorised Daewoo dealers for the first year of ownership.”

Resale values on Maximus are expected to be high, because the customers are getting exactly what they have asked for (so the trucks are ideal for local operating conditions). “We are able to say this with confidence, as our products, like the Novus K5DEF tipper, are in demand and have established high resale values,” says Shukla.

Luther and Shukla have high hopes for the success of the Daewoo brand in South Africa and more new models haven’t been ruled out. “The Daewoo range is enormous, but we first want to establish these products in the market. The initial response is encouraging,” explains Shukla.

They are convinced that acceptance of the Daewoo range will be high. Its products are acknowledged for featuring quality, reliability, durability and low total cost of ownership (TCO). “We believe that this will resonate with discerning South African operators,” concludes Luther.

Daewoo dealers needed!

The Daewoo division of TACSA is looking to establish new dealers throughout South Africa. This represents an excellent opportunity for investors wishing to sell these world-class Korean trucks!

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.

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