Johannesburg - UD Trucks Southern Africa is entering a new era with the appointment of a new managing director. Filip van den Heede will be replacing Gert Swanepoel, who is retiring after 32 years with the company.
“It has been an incredible journey with UD Trucks, and it is truly the people and the relationships with customers and dealers that have made it worthwhile,” said Swanepoel. “It has been a privilege to be a part of the brand’s growth and development throughout the years. I am excited about the future of UD Trucks in the region.”
Van den Heede has been involved in the trucking industry and the Volvo Group for 22 years and was previously vice-president of Vehicle Sales and Marketing for UD Trucks International Sales, which included responsibility for the southern African market.
“Last year was an extraordinary year for UD Trucks Southern Africa, as we launched three new model ranges in the region,” said Van den Heede. “Our customers now have access to an extensive model line-up, from medium to extra heavy commercial vehicles, backed by the company’s 58 years of experience in the local industry.
“We have one of the most extensive dealer networks in the region, with 36 dealers and service agents in South Africa and 30 in other southern African countries like Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As UD Trucks, we believe it comes down to the basics of supporting our customers every step of the way,” said Van den Heede.
Locally driven to succeed
UD Trucks Southern Africa’s head office and assembly plant is in Rosslyn, Pretoria, which includes a competency development centre that provides training to staff, fleet drivers, as well as dealer technicians, parts and sales personnel.
“We passionately believe in the vital importance of training and investing in the future of our employees, dealers and surrounding communities,” said Van den Heede. “Ultimately, it is our customers who benefit.”
At its annual press conference, marketing director Rory Schulz said that the performance of the commercial vehicle market was certainly erratic during 2019, as local economic conditions continued to be less than favourable.
“Despite all the odds, the total commercial vehicle market remained resilient and logged year-on-year growth of 2.1% at the end of 2019,” said Schulz. “However, transport operators continue to face severe cost pressures, with fluctuating diesel prices, overall safety of drivers and trucks, as well as instances of civil unrest, hitting many operations hard in the past year.”
Schulz said the Southern Africa truck market is quite unique as on the one hand there are customers who want their fleets to have highly developed technologies and systems, while others are happy to stick to the very basics. “The region is somewhat of a dichotomy as you can drive by hi-tech logistical warehouses that support large international corporations, while at the same time trying to avoid potholes on the road.
“As a manufacturer, we must take these two worlds into consideration when introducing new products and technologies,” said Schulz. “By listening to our customers, and determining what they require in their specific businesses, we are able to provide them with the right truck for the job at hand.”
Trucking for the future
Globally, UD Trucks has developed and implemented technology to address vehicle automation, electromobility and connectivity.
“Aspects such as connectivity through telematics has become an essential part of the modern fleet owner’s operations. It provides customers with real time tracking of their vehicles and allows UD Trucks to provide owners with proactive support through vehicle health monitoring and remote customer assistance,” Schulz said. “It makes our customers’ fleets safer, more efficient and more productive.”