Rishi Basdeo – General Manager, Diamond Motors (second left) greets Jamie Cohen – Managing Director, Mercedes Benz/Freightliner Latin American and the Caribbean at the Freightliner brand of commercial trucks launch at ANSA Motors. Also in photo: Andre Alleyne – Regional Sales Manager – Freightliner (left), Anna Alisa Goindoo – Sales and Marketing Manager, NGC CNG Company and Sajid Ali-Baksh – Brand Manager, Fuso/Freightliner at ANSA Motors. PHOTO: SEAN NERO
ANSA Motors’ dominance in the local commercial vehicle sector got another boost recently with the introduction of the Freightliner brand. So said Rishi Basdeo, general manager at Diamond Motors, when dealership unveiled its newest line of automobiles at its Richmond Street headquarters in collaboration with international partner Daimler Latina.
Powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), the units were brought into market as part of ongoing efforts to move the transport sector away from diesel and gasoline based fuels to cleaner, cost-effective alternative.
“In the local commercial sector, in our heavy commercial sector for trucks, we have over 55 per cent market share, primarily with our Fuso brand.
“The Freightliner brand comes from the same family, the Daimler family, so we have added a brand that consolidates our position and consolidates our portfolio,” Basdeo said.
“We sincerely believe that this will help us increase our market share. We believe that with proper positioning and targeting the right segments, we could possibly add another six to seven percentage points in our market share with the adoption of this brand.” He said the truck is a pioneer in the industry.
“We have CNG Freightliner OEM (original equipment manufacturer) trucks in tractor heads or rigids that we could put any application, from cranes to flatbeds trays, you name it. So it’s not just applicable to hardware owners.
“We have a range of clientele that it would be suitable for. So, we could start with the heavy industrial sector and work it all the way down to individual businessmen who want to invest in a high quality unit with the government subsidies to support it,” he said
Basdeo said there were no plans to phase out diesel-fuelled trucks in stocks and the CNG vehicles are meant to complement the existing fleet. With the current government initiatives, he said, there is a place for the new model vehicles which operate on a cleaner fuel.
He noted the Government’s expression of interest to fleet owners to explore how the state could assist them in upgrading to either OEM CNG trucks or retro-fitting vehicles to facilitate CNG use.
“With this option, local truck owners no longer have to consider retro-fitting their vehicles. They can come straight to us, get these OEM units and they will get the full benefits of the warranties and the service and the after sales support that comes with it.
“Ultimately, there will be a threshold upon which customers will increase their rate of switching (to CNG) based on the price of fuel.
“Certainly, as the price of diesel or the price of gasoline goes up, the rate of switching will increase. Where that point is, I can’t say at this time, but it will be determined by the public,” Basdeo said.
Jamie Cohen, managing director at Mercedes Benz/Freightliner Latin American and the Caribbean, said it was not only important for Ansa Motors to introduce the Freightliner brand to T&T, but for his company, too, as T&T is a very important market.
“It’s one of the largest islands in the Caribbean. It’s also a market for trucks and especially now with the CNG initiative it’s a pioneering initiative that we are very glad to support. We have been doing it in the North American market and going into Latin America and the Caribbean, it’s most important for all of us, both from the technology and also from implementing something that’s ecologically friendly, reducing carbon footprint and really helping the world. So it’s really important,” he said.
While Cohen could offer no immediate numbers on Freightliner’s market share regionally, he said the leadership role the company had in North America and Europe had translated positively into the islands.
“Certainly, there is an influence of the American market into the islands and you will see that in how Freightliner behaves as a brand. We are leaders in North America. We expect the same here. In Europe, we are also leaders with Mercedes Benz trucks and there are also a lot of European footprints in the islands, as well, so we expect the same development,” he said.
Service and support will be a crucial feature in the company’s relationship with ANSA Motors, Cohen said. He underscored that training of staff at the local dealership to satisfy the needs of customers to underpin the relationship the companies enjoyed.
“Not only service, but driving it. We have a very strong programme to provide training at all levels. We train drivers. We train service advisers.
“We train sales people, so they can also explain how the truck works. We don’t only do that once. We have web-based training. We have train-the-trainer training.
“There are people from my department that provide boots-on-the-ground advice. That’s the most important part. I can bring the latest trucks.
“If you don’t know how to drive it and how to service (it) it hurts everybody. So we do a lot of that. We invest a lot of money doing that,” he said.
Taken from: Trinidad Guardian
Story by: Sean Nero
Photo by: Sean Nero
Date: Monday 05th September, 2016
Page: A13, Business