Heavy load - What Western truck manufacturers have to deal with in Asia It seems paradoxical: While the Chinese market ensures the very survival of European premium automobile manufacturers, trucks from renowned Western producers don t stand a chance in most parts of the “Middle Kingdom”. Their market share is a mere six percent. In India, local truck providers also dominate the market, occupying more than 90 percent. However, one thing is clear: Commercial vehicle manufacturers that do not have a viable strategy for the booming emerging economies, may not survive without partners in the long term.
Experts predict 40 percent growth in road traffic due to international trade by 2050, resulting in increased demands on infrastructure and supply chain management. In addition, the introduction of higher security standards and emissions controls could provide a competitive advantage over local producers. Thus, there are certainly opportunities for Western manufacturers – they just need to be smart in exploiting them.
There has been no shortage of attempts to establish a presence in these countries, but all those who have dared to try have initially suffered heavy losses. Yet despite it being an expensive lesson, the findings remain; without the careful adaptation of products to the target market involved and a high degree of localization, the enterprise could fail. Those who want to keep pace must develop robust, easily maintainable products. However, most importantly, price counts more than any nice-to-have features that may match Western standards but are expensive and prone to fail.
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Title story: Local strengths - In emerging markets competition is fierce for Western truck manufacturers. This is why more and more of them are choosing to cooperate with local brands and to offer simpler models. Is this the right way to go?
Business partners: “Things are happening in the follower markets” - Daimler has developed trucks under the “BharatBenz” brand especially for the Indian market. Daimler manager Marc Llistosella, who was involved in the development of the concept, talks about the new strategy.
Know-how: New humility -The monitoring of compliance processes has increased greatly in China. Western companies should bear this in mind in order to prepare themselves for these changes.
Country focus: Cape of declining hope - South Africa has a long history of car manufacturing. Yet due to rising wages and the unpredictability of trade unions, some manufacturers are now considering withdrawing.
Best practice: Seeing the bigger picture is crucial - In the majority of car dealerships the walls dividing sales and aftersales have still not fallen and thus customer satisfaction is suffering.
Expertise: At the precipice - Despite the currently positive situation, European automotive suppliers should not become complacent. Things could get very tight for many companies in the next crisis.
Exit lane: Minibus armada - Social life in South Africa could collapse without the country’s 250,000 shared taxis. However, it’s a tough business and the death toll is high.