All 12 members of the UD Trucks international management team were in SA recently. Picture: MARK SMYTH
All 12 members of the UD Trucks international management team were in SA recently. Picture: MARK SMYTH

It is rare for the entire management team of a manufacturer to visit SA at the same time.

Come to think of it, we don’t think it has ever happened and certainly not in the truck industry. Yet there they were, all 12 members of the UD Trucks executive team, seated in a hotel in Menlyn, Pretoria chatting to the media.

Officially they were all in SA to visit dealers and customers, with Joachim Rosenberg, chairman of UD Trucks, telling us that SA is a core market for the brand and the visit provided an "opportunity for the whole team to get into the market".

I BELIEVE WE HAVE MORE TO OFFER CUSTOMERS IN SA THAN 10.8% — THE COMPANY’S MARKET SHARE IN JUNE.

There could be more to it than that though. Rosenberg says the company is planning to increase its market share in the country and the region.

"I believe we have more to offer customers in SA than the current 10.8%," he said, reflecting on the company’s market share in June. "We are investing as both UD Trucks and Volvo Group," he said, adding that "it’s clear to me we can do more".

Asked if doing more includes plans to increase investment in SA, Rosenberg would not comment. However, Rory Schultz, marketing director of UD Trucks SA, did suggest to us that an investment announcement could be forthcoming in the next three months. That would certainly better explain the presence of an entire management team in the country.

When it comes to new models and technology, things are also moving along. Diesel is still the priority for the company, according to Douglas Nakano, senior vice-president, technology at the truck manufacturer.

HOWEVER, ELECTRIC OR ELECTRIFIED TRUCKS ARE THE HOT TOPIC AT THE MOMENT.

"Diesel is still super competitive, wheel to wheel," he says, referring in particular to the total cost of ownership.

However, electric or electrified trucks are the hot topic at the moment. "Electrified trucks are coming," says Rosenberg. "The debate is how long it will take." However he stresses that they have to make sense.

"E-trucks either make sense from a market driven perspective or because of government incentives," he says.

The other key topic is connectivity and here UD can call on the entire Volvo Group.

"Volvo Group has 700,000 connected trucks," says Rosenberg. "We are leveraging from that as UD Trucks."

Connectivity is likely to come sooner than electric trucks for the brand in SA, but in the meantime it is looking at other truck solutions. One is the new Quon, launched recently in Japan. Rosenberg could not say when it will come to SA though, only saying that it is "likely to one day come to SA".

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