Transgroup Logistics, a Black Economic Empowerment company with offices in Durban, Northern Natal and Gauteng, recently took delivery of four FAW 16.240FT truck tractors and one FAW 15.180FL.

The company, with a mixed fleet, has also been approved for the purchase of a further eight FAW’s: five FAW 33.420FTs. All of the trucks have been acquired through FAW Pinetown, a full FAW sales and service branch in Durban, with the sales process expertly handled by Derrick Devraj, senior sales executive at the branch.

Owner and director of Transgroup Logistics, Kerwin Naidoo, explains that the company is currently servicing a few global brands, which will see it running the FAW trucks in and around the province and from the Durban port to Gauteng.

“We are doing local and national deliveries and these vehicles are ideal for this purpose. The trucks are all single-axle vehicles, which means they are the right choice for light container loads.

“These vehicles don’t come with computer boxes so they’re not highly technical in nature and are not difficult to maintain. We expect that downtime will be limited. Also, spares are readily available and FAW has got service dealers right through on the N3. This makes it even easier for us,” Naidoo explains.

“The most important thing for us is the aftersales service and the service intervals of the vehicles. This is our first order of FAW’s, so we are excited to see the real-world results. We hope to grow our fleet further during 2018. Once we start running and testing the FAW’s, then we will slowly increase them in the fleet.”

“I have seen a lot of FAW’s running across the borders,” he adds.

He says it’s an important fact that FAW assembles vehicles in South Africa.

“There are a number of Euro-spec vehicles in the country and, should anything break, you can wait weeks for parts to arrive. With FAW, parts are readily available -you can have them within a day or two – so downtime is limited.

“I’ve read a lot of articles on FAW supplying construction sites and all of them are working well. We currently sub-contract a portion of work and certain haulage companies are waiting for me to give them feedback on the vehicles we have purchased with FAW. I know the feedback will be positive, which will impact the branch’s bottom line positively as they will get a lot more deals coming through their doors,” he says.

Transgroup Logistics’ drivers will be hosted by FAW Pinetown to receive training on the intricacies of operating their newly branded vehicles. “These vehicles are practical and driver-friendly and that makes a big difference,” continues Naidoo.

He adds that the company undertook a study to determine what the most economical trucks would be when it came to light container loads. “That is why we chose FAW,” he says. “Diesel cost is your biggest factor in transport and these trucks are light on fuel.”

The Pinetown FAW branch is strategically based alongside the N3 to Johannesburg and is in the same vicinity as other leading truck OEM’s. It was established eight years ago, with dealer principal, Mike Williams, at the helm of the impressive sales and service facility since 2013.

“We’ve shown growth at the branch in excess of 20% per annum, year-on-year,” he says.

“We are expecting a further 20% growth in 2018 compared to last year, which was itself up 28% on 2016. A large percentage of our business is repeat business. This shows that our aftersales efforts are working,” he explains.

“We have a good, self-motivated sales team and a fully-equipped workshop. We also have a comprehensive parts department, headed by people that have over 40 years of parts experience between them.”

Williams says what sets FAW Pinetown apart is its ability to provide full backup and 24-hour breakdown assistance. “In addition to the workshop manager, we have five fully qualified diesel technicians. We do our very best to go beyond the call of duty to keep our customers happy.”

In addition to serving Pinetown and surrounding areas, the dealership also exports vehicles to Seychelles, Mozambique, Lesotho and Botswana.

Williams explains that a major concern for clients stems from the fact that a lot of other brands have come into the country, tested the market and then disappeared. It’s therefore not surprising that many potential customers inquire as to how long FAW has been in the country.

“I’m always proud to mention that FAW SA has been in business here for over 23 years now. And, the fact that FAW SA made a R600 million investment in a truck plant in Port Elizabeth tells people we are here to stay. Many people want the assurance that the brand will still be around in two years’ time.

“The fact that FAW SA established the plant in Coega, where all these units are assembled, goes a long way to providing our customers with peace of mind,” he says.

Apart from the Transgroup Logistics deal, FAW Pinetown has made inroads into many other fleets in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), among them the Dixon Group, Autogistixs, Build It, Boxer Cash and Carry and Build Right, to name a few.

Further inroads have also been made in the KZN truck market, with the five-ton FAW 8.140 and the eight-ton FAW 15.180 particularly well-received. Williams says he sells more tippers in Pinetown than two of the best-known competitors. “We are number two in the country for concrete mixer sales, according to Naamsa sales stats,” he indicates.

The KZN region is also well-supported; FAW has a fully-fledged dealership in Harrismith as well as service dealers in Estcourt and will also soon open a sales and service dealership in Richard’s Bay and in Umtata.

Reliability, value-for-money and good backup service has resulted in the branch doing regular, repeat business.

“Fuel consumption on the vehicles is also outstanding. A lot of our customers, particularly those companies that have been running premium European brands, use FAW trucks on their medium to long-haul routes because our fuel consumption is highly favourable,” explains Williams.

Another frequently asked question pertains to the availability of parts.

“We are quick to assure our customers that parts are not an issue and that we have a regular supply. FAW Pinetown’s current parts stockholding equates to R2.1 million.