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Powerstar now in it for the long haul

While the Powerstar brand of Ever Star Industries performed exceptionally well in 2017, Ever Star Industries still has big plans for 2018 – from introducing a long-haul truck to expanding its business into southern Africa.

Ever Star Industries began opertions in South Africa in 2010 and soon became a well-established, highly regarded original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Kits are brought to South Africa from its parent company in China, BeiBen, after which they are assembled at the company’s Pietermaritzburg plant.

The well-established truck brand of Ever Star Industries, Powerstar, achieved an impressive 13-percent increase in sales during 2017, despite the struggling economy.

“If you strengthen your strategy in the bad times, the good times become easier. For this reason, Powerstar performed well in 2017. Ever Star Industries understands its customers’ needs and support them at a high level. In addition, Ever Star Industries organically finds opportunities to gain market share where other OEMs may have dropped catches,” says Ever Star Industries CEO, Bob Wang.

This OEM has established 18 full dealers, that provide comprehensive aftersales services. Of these dealers, three are Powerstar-owned dealerships, which are situated in Centurion, Jet Park and Pietermaritzburg. This dealer network is complemented by 16 service and parts dealers throughout South Africa and neighbouring countries. All dealers in the Ever Star Industries network receive extensive training on an ongoing basis.

Ever Star Industries wants to ensure its vehicles provide services to its clients for at least a decade – as senior head of sales and marketing, Rodney Selesnick, notes: “Many of the Powerstar trucks that came to South Africa in 2006 are still performing well. Ever Star Industries keeps a vast spare-parts holding – between R60 million and R80 million worth of parts at any given time.”

Easy access to spare parts and fewer electrical parts in the Powerstar range means these trucks are more affordable throughout the entire life cycle. Wang adds that most of the electrical parts in the current trucks offered on the market only last around five years. “Thereafter, maintenance costs become too expensive for many transport operators,” he explains.

The Powerstar range of vehicles has previously been focused on construction and mining, however, with the V3 AMT 6×4 and the new V3 ET range, Ever Star Industries is shifting its focus to the long-haul vehicle market.

It took some time for Powerstar to capitalise on the potential long-haul qualities of its current extra-heavy vehicles. Selesnick points out: “Over the years we have focused primarily on construction and therefore missed opportunities to break into other sectors of the market. We do have models that are extremely well equipped to perform in other applications.”

The V3 6×4 truck tractor was first introduced in 2013. It ran 100 000 km of testing before 50 units were distributed among customers for a three-year, real-life test run. The new V3 ET range, which builds on the lessons learned by Ever Star Industries in the last five years, was introduced in 2017.

“The Powerstar V3 ET was given to a core customer base for testing. The response has been extremely good. It is a very well-priced unit with high-end drivetrains. It is lighter than the previous generation and is still user-friendly with Euro-3 technology,” Selesnick notes.

According to Wang, the basics of the new V3 are the same as the older model. “However, it has been completely updated. This new model is vastly improved, it is more economical and it’s also more reliable.”

Similar to its predecessor, the V3 ET is powered by a Cummins 320 kW (430 hp), 11-litre, Euro-3 engine and Fastgear 12-speed automated manual transmission (AMT) gearbox. The V3 ET also offers a 343 kW (460 hp), 12-litre Weichai engine with an optional AMT transmission. The chassis has been lightened by 800 kg to optimise payload for linehaul duty.

“This means the payload is greater, but strength hasn’t been compromised,” Selesnick says.

The V3 will be assembled at the Powerstar Pietermaritzburg plant. A BeiBen engineer is permanently based at the factory so that, if needed, vehicle modifications can easily be made. The aim is to sell 100 units into the South African market by the end of 2018.

“The strategy is to introduce the long-haul truck with an attractive and comprehensive package. Ever Star Industries also aims to broaden its focus to southern Africa. In 2018, the company may introduce more of its offerings to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, where it is already well rooted, as well as boost its presence in Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Wang says.

Buyers of lighter vehicles will have something to look forward to later in the year, when Ever Star Industries introduces the Powerstar FT range. This will offer a solution to light, medium and occasional long-haul distributions. This follows a joint venture between the two holding companies whereby Ever Star Industries takes on board the Foton medium truck range and rebrands these under Ever Star Industries’ top brand, Powerstar.

Selesnick states: “We will introduce three and five-tonne trucks to the market, which will be very competitively priced with very high-end drivetrains. This will also provide us with a new range of suitable genetics and pedigree joining our stable. In support of the new Powerstar FT range we are realigning and strengthening our dealer footprint with some significant names entering our family. These new dealers are financially strong and culturally in-sync with the ethos of Ever Star Industries.”

The FT3 and bigger FT5 will be fitted with a 115 kW (154 hp) engine with a six-speed ZF gearbox. The range is equipped with a three-seater day cab, which makes it ideal for intercity distribution. The FT range will also be built in Pietermaritzburg. Ever Star Industries aims to sell 200 units of the FT range in its first year.

While an exciting year of launches and expansion awaits Ever Star Industries, the company is very aware of its ambitious intentions in a fluctuating economy. The introduction of this eight-tonne vehicle within the FT range later in 2018 will assist Ever Star Industries in further increasing its overall market share. The OEM also aims to remain a top player in the extra-heavy construction industry throughout the year.

“Ever Star Industries knows the market will again be difficult, however, we are still excited about the plans for 2018 and look forward to the new challenges,” Wang concludes.

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

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