Isuzu Truck South Africa chief operating officer Craig Uren was surprisingly up- beat last week despite newly released figures from the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa showing double-digit decreases in medium and heavy truck segments for August 2015 compared to the corresponding period last year.
Addressing the media in Port Elizabeth, Uren admitted the tough times could get even tougher. “We knew there was trouble on the horizon,” he said when referring to the slide of the rand over the past few weeks. “There is definitely concern going into next year as we try to know where the markets are heading.” Uren listed the factors that have many industry leaders jittery — low investment in the country, the high price of fuel, the challenge of solving unemployment, two ratings agency downgrades, toll roads and the fact that GDP is under pressure.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, and what had Uren sporting half a smile was that the recently concluded 100% buyout by Isuzu of Kanu Commercial Body Construction and Automotive Chassis Technologies was now put to bed and production had begun at the PE plant. “This acquisition complements our growth strategy. We believe the acquisition of Kanu and ACT will definitely enhance our current business structure.
“The Move to acquire these entities will centralise the process of buying our processed from one central point of contact.” What the deal basically means is that Isuzu Trucks now has the capacity to initiate and build products according to client specifications at a centralised point. The greatest saving for the customer will be in time. Previously, it would take up to six weeks for changes to be made to a truck; now these adjustments can be made within a week.
It’s a new business cycle for the Japanese- owned Isuzu, but one that definitely has an eye on the future and, most importantly, taking care of customer needs. Clients can now have their vehicle modified according to exactly how they want it — whether it be for construction, waste removal, truck transportation or any other application. And it’s not just South Africa that Isuzu Trucks is targeting, with a foot in nine sub-Saharan countries. In Zimbabwe and Zambia alone, it projects it will sell between 100 and 150 units over a six-month period. As Uren said, “Africa is a happening place.”