South Africa’s Truck manufacturers have predicted a flat commercial vehicle market for this year but there have been some glimmers of hope.
Leslie Long, senior manager: production planning and marketing at Hino, says that the extra-heavy sector seems to be holding up the best. “This is probably because of structured financial contracts (buy backs),” he explains. “It is our hope that this positive trend will continue; we also hope that economic activity will start accelerating towards the end of 2020 and into 2021,” he says.
Anders Friberg – vehicles sales, exports and engines general manager at Scania – is also hopeful that things will pick up. “I believe that the total truck market for 2020 will grow by approximately 3%. There is more political stability after the election and there is more direct investment from global investors. The replacement cycle for bigger fleets will also contribute to growth,” he believes.
Friberg is also predicting good things for certain sectors. “The construction segment will come back after a big decline in capital projects during 2019. This will also affect the mining industry that had a decline during 2019 and will recover next year. But still the biggest growth in the total number of trucks will come from long haulage. Urbanization, population growth and a railway system that is not maintained will have an effect of the growing truck market,” he predicts.
Mercedes-Benz’s Gerber agrees that there is some room for optimism. “We do see some potential in the heavy-duty segment. Should the government invest in the construction segment, then we will most certainly see some growth in this area again. This – together with the forward buying of our customers, who are changing to more fuel-efficient trucks – could continue to stimulate the heavy-duty truck market, but we don’t foresee it growing at the same level as 2019,” she maintains.
MAN’s Geyer also says that the situation is not all bad. “On the upside of things, we note that some government investment projects, which have been on hold for a long time, are now coming to fruition. We are seeing fleet renewals and replacements from various logistics companies who have postponed such purchases for two years already. There are some growth companies that are clearly bucking the trends by significantly expanding in specific industry segments. We’re also seeing an over-supplied industry, where each original equipment manufacturer is having to show continued product, pricing and support offerings (this positively stimulates demand). The same can be said of new product introductions,” he says.