Hino recently completed a 50-day promotional roadshow through four countries in sub-Saharan Africa aimed at increasing brand awareness with a view to growing sales in the region. The 6 500-km route covered Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, with stopovers in Bulawayo, Harare, Lusaka, Ndola, Kitwe, Lilongwe, Blantyre, Tete and Maputo.
Andre Venter, vice-divisional general manager for Hino at African Mobility Solutions (AMS) – organisers of the roadshow and distributors of the brand in 30 African countries – said the initiative had featured 12 events and had enabled AMS’s representatives to interact with major transport operators and senior government officials.
“More than 100 quotations were provided to interested parties, and some transactions have already been concluded, which bodes well for increasing sales and market share in the region. All events were attended by AMS personnel from South Africa, while in Zambia we also had representation from Hino Japan.”
Three vehicles were used – a Hino 814 manual transmission with dropside body, a Hino 1627 Automatic with a tautliner body and a Hino 700 truck tractor equipped with a 410 hp engine and ZF AMT transmission which pulled a tri-axle dropside trailer. The combination demonstrated how advanced technology offered in South Africa was also available in other African countries.
Venter said all of the trucks performed faultlessly; the only delay coming at the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, where the vehicles were parked for three days as a result of clearance-control processes.
For evaluation purposes, each of the trucks was fitted with tracking and fleet-management systems supplied by CarTrack and Questek. According to Venter, more operators in Africa have requested these types of units with a view to managing their fleets effectively.
“Questions from guests mainly concerned pricing, specifications and body options, lead times and after-sales support. Big corporate customers and cross-border operators welcomed the fact that Hino products were similarly equipped to vehicles available in South Africa. The fact that safety features such as ABS and airbags, as well as those which promote driver comfort, were among Hino’s highest priorities was also appreciated,” he said.
According to Venter, the AMS team stressed the value proposition of Hino in respect of the total cost of ownership and the brand’s reputation for quality, durability and reliability. A testimonial by a satisfied customer in Malawi provided additional credibility.
However, he said the trip underlined the fact that doing business in Africa was not easy. “Trading tends to be cumbersome and expensive, and competition is tough. More than 30 truck brands are represented in Africa and a large number of used vehicles – so-called grey imports – have flooded the market, diminishing the appetite for new products,” he said.
Venter added that AMS had a dedicated team in sub-Saharan Africa that focused on developing new markets while strengthening existing operations. “Also, we have implemented new vehicle sales and after-sales training programmes in the region. It remains a priority going forward to enhance skills, knowledge and resources at our distributors and dealers to ensure top quality customer service.”