Roland Reddy, long-time sales executive at Metro Cars in the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, has two lesser-spotted vehicles he recommends to any spaza owner or courier contractor, if he can only get them to trust cars from China.
“The Chinese are getting a raw deal,” says Reddy, “and let me go show you what I mean.”
As we walk through the dealership, he says he is proud to be working in what locals consider the most trusted multi-franchise dealer in the KZN Midlands, thanks to the family owners’ commitment to the community since they started 44 years ago.
In the far corner of the dealership, Reddy points to a JMC single cab next to a Changan van and starts ticking off their good points.
“Take JMC. These guys date back to 1968 and build the Ford Transit in China. This bakkie comes with the previous 2.4 TDCi Ford Transit engine with a really solid 4x4 system. And check how nice it is inside. It’s basically the previous generation Ranger, drive away for R299 000.”
He said the main competitors are from the Mahindra Bolero and the GWM Steed 5.2-litre 4x4.
“This Steed 4x4 sells for R255k, so that’s less than the JMC, but it’s for a two-litre petrol engine. If you go places where you’ll need a 4x4, I recommend you take a diesel. Trust me, I fish a lot, and you don’t want to get stuck with a high-revving petrol engine. You want low-down torque from a diesel that’s in the JMC.”
Turning to the Changan van behind the single cab JMC, Reddy says this range of small workhorses from China all offer good deals for small businesses. “They say after lockdown, many people will continue working from home. That means they will need stuff delivered to their homes. For guys looking to start a courier company to cash in on this, I say get this little Chinese offering; it’s the most affordable van in the country.
Asked about reliability, he points to the narrow gaps between the panels. “Check the welding on this. It’s all built by robots. Changan is a big player in China, and they tell me these vans are like the Nissan 1400 over there. It’s got a three-year, 100k-warranty, and our workshop services them, so I can tell you they are easy to maintain and as tough as nails.”
Managing a dealership as well as a satellite dealership in another province is not an easy task, but this is exactly what Jose Menezes has been doing since August last year.
Volvo Trucks South Africa has opened a new R130 million dealership facility in Durban to support the growth of the brand’s vehicle parc in the region.
Servicing and maintaining a vehicle are necessary but can often be viewed as a grudge purchase.