TRANSPORT: Powerstar is Ascending
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AS the economy contracts even some segments of the heavy vehicle market are starting to show sales declines. One brand, however, is bucking the trend and may even benefit from the more difficult business conditions.
Powerstar is represented in South Africa by the JSE-listed Super Group.
Vernon Rudman, Dealer Principal for Super Group Industrial Products in the Western Cape, says the first Powerstars, sourced from China in SKD-form and assembled in Pietermaritzburg, were sold in mid-2005. To date more than 1300 units have been sold nationally.
In the above 16 ton-segment Powerstar holds some 5% of the market. In the tipper market it has done extremely well, taking some 35% as market share, according to Rudman.
The success of Powerstar can be ascribed to numerous factors. Because of pricing – some models are priced up to 20% lower than other comparable models – they are much more affordable.
“This is a key consideration in a transport industry that is increasingly pressed to maintain margins. It is true not only in the acquiring price, but operating costs too”, Rudman says.
He says as this trend continues, brand loyalty for competing European and USA trucks is frittering away as operators become more cost conscious.
Powerstar comprises of the Bei Ben range of trucks and the newly introduced Shaanxi range. “The Bei Ben and Shaanxi are no-nonsense, simple trucks but rugged and ideal as workhorses – especially so in the construction industry. They have parts commonality with various other makes so that most any technician can work on them”, Rudman explains.
“Also, we have found that they are very driver friendly. Many drivers are uncomfortable with all the bells and whistles and high-spec gadgetry found in some modern makes. They are familiar with the Powerstar technology and accept them much easier”.
The vehicles are not complicated and the transmissions are of a robust and simple design, being easy to maintain and operate.
So far the Bei Ben’s have made inroads in the construction industry in particular and are often used in off-road environments. In the Western Cape, for example, 35 units have been sold to well-known operator Slabbert Burger, with more to come.
The new introduced Shaanxi range of truck tractors will be more suited to short and long haul, Rudman says, and its success will flow from the same considerations of the Bei Ben: affordability and reliability.
Being part of the JSE-listed Super Group operation, substantial investments have been made in parts and service facilities. Gearbox and engine exchange units are also available nationwide to further ensure customer up-time.
“We provide the lowest cost of ownership and will beat anybody else hands down”, Rudman says confidently.
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