As a young man, Ashir Singh (33) had a need for speed that saw him compete in drag races in his Opel Superboss and sign up for numerous advanced driving courses at Kyalami.
But in 2020, the winner of VW’s Grand Prix New Vehicle Sales Executive Awards in Newcastle, says hillclimbs in a veteran race car is now more his speed, but a slow Sunday cruise is even better.
Born and bred in the scenic town of Newcastle with its surrounding battlefields, Singh could not help but become an avid nature lover and a bit of a history buff. After school he qualified as a tour operator through Varsity College in Pietermaritzburg. An only son, he returned to KwaZulu-Natal’s third biggest city to take care of his retired parents and “to be where every season is just beautiful”.
He has been selling cars for eight years and is very grateful that VW Newcastle managed two good months during lockdown. The lower interest rate helped, but he says having the right size models in the line-up is in fact his best sales tool.
“I sometimes think we are all car nuts in Newcastle. People here buy a surprising number of what we call heavy metals, like the 3.0-litre V6 TDI Amarok and Touareg, followed by the Tiquan. But the Tiquan was often a bit of a stretch for our customers who wanted to upgrade from their Polo. Since the arrival of the T-Cross (in September 2019) we now have the model for them.”
He said with all predictions pointing to a low fourth quarter as the economic destruction of lockdown takes full effect, the arrival of the entry-level T-Cross Trendline could not be better timed. “Buyers love cross-overs, and the T-Cross ticks all the boxes,” he said.
Singh said the best thing about selling cars in his part of the world is the test drives. A few minutes in any direction puts you in big sky country, where motorists can “sho’t left” and live the VW philosophy to “drive local, support local”.
He said the saying about buying when there is blood on the streets also applies to vehicles. “Right now, interest rates look to be as low as they can go, which creates a lot of scope for us as car sellers to sharpen our pencils and structure deals that will put our customers in the most car for the least money on the long run,” he said.
The bearded young bachelor is full of hope for a post lockdown recovery. “I love this quote by 1950s author and anthropologist, Robert Adrey, who said humans are ‘bad-weather animals, disaster's fairest children – for the soundest of evolutionary reasons man appears at his best when times are at their worst.’ Our ancestors made it though much worse things than the economic meltdown of lockdown, and we will get through this time too.”
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) kept the wheels rolling this year with the opening of five new dealerships in four provinces.
The latest addition to the Stellantis dealer network is a large, new Super Group multi-franchise facility in Jacaranda Street, Hennopspark, Centurion, for Jeep, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Citroën.
We can overcome all the hurdles placed in front of us if we recognise our biggest asset in business is our people, says Rob Downs the Dealer Principal at CMH Nissan and Mitsubishi Pinetown.