MAN has once again come up trumps at the FOCUS on Excellence awards, sponsored by WesBank, writes UDO RYPSTRA.Competition in the bus and coach market is fierce with five major European vehicle manufacturers – MAN Truck & Bus, Mercedes-Benz, Scania, Volvo and Iveco – jostling for the biggest slice of the cake, which normally varies between 800 and 1 200 units a year.
What makes this competition so remarkable is that one big order of 560 units can change the rankings overnight and it happened this year. It came in the form of a tender for Intercity and Luxury Coaches from PRASA (through the National Department of Transport) for the Soccer World Cup 2010.
MAN Truck & Bus has been reigning supreme in the bus and coach market for several years, and this time MAN Truck & Bus was successful in being awarded 110 intercity buses with the major portion of the tender (460 intercity and luxury coaches) being awarded to Mercedes Benz of South Africa.
The reason? Ray Karshagen, MAN Truck & Bus management board member – bus, regarded by many as the doyen of the local bus industry, could not compete with the delivery timeline and the pricing offered for the Mercedes Benz product sourced from Brazil.
Similarly, MAN was unsuccessful with its bid for BRT buses required for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan and the Cape Town BRT services. This was again related to delayed tender adjudication processes and the quick delivery timeline to meet the commencement of these services for the Soccer World Cup. Sadly the complete buses had to be fully imported and an opportunity to create employment through local manufacture in South Africa was lost.
But, at the FOCUS on Excellence Awards function held recently, Karshagen was there on behalf of his company, having flown in especially from another MAN mission – from Dubai – to receive two awards. MAN took the honours with the best-selling Lion’s Explorer Commuter Bus, which is built complete with body at MAN’s Olifantsfontein factory, once again proving to be unbeatable.
The FOCUS on Excellence Awards are given after independent research, interviews with and voting by industry stakeholders. “The judging process is extensive and is completely independent,” explains Ian Byers, director of Scott Byers. “While the awards process is administered by FOCUS, the magazine cannot influence or determine any results.”
Karshagen believes that, apart from the one-stop facility MAN offers for complete buses, it is the back-up and the monthly technical liaison meetings with customers that make the Lion’s Explorer so sought after. “We actually invite criticism at these meetings and if there are any problems, we sort things out,” he said.
This also explains why Buscor’s entire fleet is based on MAN buses and bustrains, with Karshagen now aiming to increase MAN’s 40% stake in Golden Arrow Bus Services, Cape Town, fleet.
MAN also received a special award for being the most improved company within the Best Touring Coach category. For the first time this year, an additional category was introduced: a Certificate of Excellence presented to top-performing companies. This award pays special tribute to suppliers who significantly improved their performance versus the previous year. The award was given to companies who improved their ratings by at least 9% in any one of the categories.
MAN Truck & Bus received this special recognition in the Touring Coach category.
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