A Force to be reckoned with

Force Motors is heading to SA, opening more opportunities for dealers looking to expand their franchise networks.

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The Indian manufacturer, which has close ties to both Mercedes-Benz and BMW in its home country, is in the process of establishing a dealer network in South Africa and the rest of Africa. It hopes to start with retail in the first quarter of 2023.

The new brand with a strong focus on the commercial sector could have up to 30 new dealerships towards the end of next year, says Francois van Eeden, Sales & Marketing Manager of ETG Logistics, the distributors of Force Motors in South Africa.

The Kargo King pick-up.

According to Francois, dealerships have already been established in some neighbouring states, and locally the process is progressing well. “We are in negotiations with a variety of people ranging from dealers in the used and commercial space to established motor groups . Training is also taking place, and we look forward to bringing the brand to local shores.”

Asked if the South African market, which is in many ways stagnant, can sustain another brand, Francois says they firmly believe there is a space for a more affordable range of commercial vehicles to move goods and people around.

Gurkha 4x4.

“We think of small businesses, ranging from construction to garden services, that need a solid and reliable mode of transport with a weight-carrying capacity ranging from just above one ton to around two tons without requiring a higher code driving licence.

“Even applications in the agricultural sector comes to mind with a variety of possibilities. Our normally aspirated 2.6 litre diesel engine (67 kW & 250 Nm) will form the backbone of our ranges. The engines, which originate from an older generation Mercedes-Benz power train, is proven technology. Without a turbo, the kilowatts might be low, but the focus is on power, the newton metres, that is what load capacity is all about,” he tells Dealerfloor.

Force Motors manufactures pick-ups, panel vans and buses in India. The range includes the Gurkha 4x4 Off-roader, Traveller midi-bus, panel vans and ambulances that are built to fit South African specifications and needs, as well as the Kargo King pick-up.

The Traveller midi-bus.
The panel van for Force Motors.

While the Gurkha is aimed at serious off-roading enthusiasts who require the use of independently controlled differential locks to get out of tricky situations, the Traveller midi-bus is expected to be popular with mini- and midi-bus (can carry between 16 and 35 people) taxi operators who are looking for affordable people-mover solutions.

Since 1997, when Daimler AG decided to manufacture Mercedes cars in India, the engines fitted on their cars made in India are produced at Force Motors. To date, Force Motors has supplied over 143 000 engines and 128 000 axles to Mercedes Benz India.

In 2015, BMW assigned Force Motors to produce and test the engines for all cars and SUVs to be made in India. A state-of-the-art factory has been built to the exacting standards of BMW by Force Motors in Chennai close to their factory. To date Force Motors has supplied over 66 000 engines to BMW.

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