The truck manufacturer, DAF, has just launched its brand new XF and CF models onto the South African market and announced that a local assembly plant would be built in KwaZulu-Natal within the next 12 months.
Earlier plans suggested it might be built in Johannesburg, but the logistics in terms of being close to a port brought about a re-think for more practical reasons.
Not saying exactly where the plant will be, it is said to bring an initial investment of up to R50 million and creates several new job opportunities at the DAF plant that is part of Barloworld’s Babcock Transport Solution Division.
The Managing Director of DAF, Marius Barnard, adds to this that the new ‘right to repair’ legislation brought a lot of questions to the automotive industry. He says it could be positive in terms of creating a network of authorised (RMI link and manufacturer approved) repair and service agents without huge infrastructure investments required from OEMs in all corners of the country.
“A lot of details will have to be looked at like the supply chain for parts to ensure good operating levels and in case of a failure to trace it back to its origin. It might well include other brands in light of Babcock’s huge commercial fleet,” he says.
With DAF being one of the top five European trucks in terms of sophistication, popularity, safety and advanced technologies with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, MAN and Scania, what will differentiate the Dutch truck maker from the rest locally?
The DAF executives are aware that the manufacturer is lagging behind the competition here in terms of sales volumes. However, they believe their multi-facet strategy will bring an about turn for DAF in South Africa.
This includes a new strategy in terms of a fixed cost of ownership that includes plans for service, maintenance and recovery, all in one package. The creation of service sites and training at big clients are also being investigated. The new buy-back guarantee for used trucks will assist operators and banks in securing finance and creates a very viable used truck business at the same time.
But what about the new DAF trucks?
“The new models are not merely upgraded or facelifts of previous models, but are completely new vehicles, showcasing improved chassis, cabs, gearboxes and engines,” says Mark Gavin, Sales Director at DAF.
“Besides a fresh exterior design featuring excellent aerodynamics, central to the new trucks’ transport efficiency is the new PACCAR MX-13 engine offering more torque at lower revolutions per minute (rpm) for higher fuel efficiency and lower noise levels. The low rpm reduces CO₂ emissions, while the trucks’ Eco Performance Mode ensures an optimal balance between high driveability and best fuel efficiency.”
Gavin says extensive local tests carried out on the new DAF trucks in South Africa over the last year have shown an average 10% reduction in fuel costs. “This means significant savings for long distance operators where up to 60% of overall expenses are allocated to fuel consumption.”
According to him, the sales forecast for the next 12 months is around 450 units.
Although a hybrid version is not currently under consideration for South Africa, dual fuel versions are looking at using diesel and gas. The new trucks are at Euro III spec level because of fuel and costs concerns but Euro V versions can be imported by special request.
The pricing of the new XF and CF models range from R1.7 million to R2.1 million, depending on the model and specifications, and the first vehicles have already been sold and delivered to customers.
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