Having come out of an extremely tough 2014, Isuzu Trucks South Africa is geared up to face what is seemingly a more turbulent 2015. This was the overriding sentiment at the annual State of the Business update that was addressed by Chief Operating Officer, Craig Uren, who provided a holistic review of the state of play for the industry and a realistic outlook for the year ahead.
Operating against a global and local backdrop characterised by conflict on many fronts – economic, political and religious – Uren stressed the importance of business being nimble enough to embrace uncertainty and managing many variables to remain competitive. The tough economic conditions that saw the overall truck market record a nominal annual growth of 2.0% at the end of December 2014, are set to continue in 2015. The medium commercial vehicle (MCV) segment dropped by 4.9%, while the heavy commercial vehicle (HCV) segment recorded a decline of 2.1% and the extra heavy commercial (XHCV) segment grew by 8.7%.
Isuzu Trucks South Africa had a solid performance at the end of 2014, exceeding the 4000 units’ sales mark for the second year in a row. Isuzu Truck remains the leader in the cab-over-chassis and medium commercial vehicle (MCV) segment of the industry, with a current market share of 12.8% of the total truck market.
N –Series products accounted for 21% of the MCV market, giving Isuzu market leadership of this segment and F-Series achieved 23.4% of the HCV market. Since the recent introduction of the FX Series this has range continues to grow and achieved 3.3% of the EHCV.
The Japanese manufacturer’s success in the South African market can be attributed to their product differentiation, innovation and customer-centred approach to finding solutions that will increase customers’ profitability and productivity.
Productivity at Isuzu Truck’s Port Elizabeth-based plant was extremely healthy in 2014, considering the wide labour unrest experienced by many automotive manufacturers that have an operational footprint in South Africa.
In comparison to similar territories, South Africa is pretty much on par with its Isuzu Truck counterparts in successful emerging markets. “The fundamental driver of our solid performance is the AMT Technology, which Isuzu brought to the MCV and HCV market in SA and uses extensively across our product range. In some cases one will find that AMT-enhanced models account for up to 70% of total sales in a specific range – that in itself is testimony of the market’s confidence in the Isuzu specific technology,” Uren added.
Painting a picture of what success would look like for the business in 2015, Uren put a stake in the ground and said that his team would work towards achieving further good growth on the 4046 units sold last year, continue to drive product innovation and constantly seek opportunity in adversity.
On the environmental responsibility front, the company will continue conducting trials on products that run on green fuel sources and test hybrid models with selected customers in the local market.
The company plans to make significant investment into local business in 2015 and 2016 to enhance the Isuzu Truck SA business model and this includes developing local communities and promoting entrepreneurship on the social responsibility front, but will only reveal details of its plans in due course.