BATTLE OF THE BAKKIES FOR 2023

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February 1, 2023

BATTLE OF THE BAKKIES FOR 2023

The scene is set for a bruising battle of (one-ton) bakkies in South Africa in 2023. The big thrust will come from Ford, which has had an extended runout of the previous Ranger as they completely reworked the factory and its environs for large scale production of the new model, as well as building a similar model to be marketed as the Amarok by Volkswagen.

It will be interesting to see how the Ford dealers fare now they only have the EcoSport and Mustang as passenger cars, so, after an exceptionally long history in South Africa, they will have to reinvent themselves as commercial vehicle dealerships. No more Anglias, Escorts, Cortinas, Sierras, Fiestas, Focuses and the like – to pay the rent and keep the lights on!

Toyota, which is making a strong recovery from the floods which put the factory out of action for four months, has already fired off a warning shot that it will be going full out to retain its supremacy in this segment with their Hilux. The latest salvo in in the form of the GR Sport power from the 2.8-litre turbo diesel engine going up from 150 to 165 kW.

Then we will see how Volkswagen is going to take on the bakkie market with a similar model to the Ford Ranger, which has built up quite a following in South Africa since the previous generation models were introduced. It seems likely VW will pitch the Silverton-built Amarok as a premium (and more expensive) model as Mercedes-Benz did when it marketed its version of the Nissan Navara under the X-Class nomenclature.

The result of the Mercedes-Benz/Nissan joint venture was short-lived and no doubt very costly for the three-pointed star brand. This time Volkswagen has a popular Ford model as its base, whereas the Navara range is still lagging behind the volume sellers in the one-ton bakkie segment – even with a full range of single- and double cab derivatives.

However, Ford/Volkswagen are having some major headaches as planned production ramps up at the Silverton plant to 150 000 units in 2023 and then going to 200 000 units in the future.

The big challenge for these OEMs is moving its completed vehicles from the plant to the Gqeberha port and bringing up components – including engines made in that city – on the return trip.  The reason is that it appears Transnet is unable to fulfil its commitment to have its Southern Rail Corridor functioning efficiently to tie in with Ford’s investment of R16-billion in upgrading its plant. This is just not happening – and the only option will be to transport everything by road.

This problem will grow even bigger soon when production of the Volkswagen Amarok gets under way because there are also export units involved that must get to the coast for shipment.

Isuzu is getting aggressive in its marketing of the new generation D-Max and already doing well with its exports into Africa.

We still have bit players in the field in the form of Mitsubishi (Triton), Peugeot (Landtrek), and Mazda (slow selling BT50 based on the Isuzu), as well as the special application bakkies from Kia (K2500/K2700), Hyundai (H100) and Suzuki (Super Carry) to contend with, but a much bigger threat comes from the East.

Mahindra, with its Scorpio Pik-Up and Bolero, is finding some loyal customers, especially in the farming community and steadily building volumes. These bakkies will soon be joined by a one-tonner from another Indian OEM, in the form of the Force Kargo King, which is styled similar to the Mahindra.

However, the big threat to the established big players in the bakkie market is coming from the Chinese, who have tried to enter this market before without much success. JAC Motors is still trying to win over some customers with its Isuzu clones – but it is Haval with its GWM Steed and P-Series that is making the biggest impression on the local market and growing combined volumes to around 1 000 units a month.

Then there’s Chery, the Chinese returnee, which is enjoying significant success with its SUVs, stating that it intends entering the bakkie market with two monocoque models as well as a traditional body on frame model. The first of these bakkies from Chery is expected in the first half of this year.

It will be interesting to see the make-up of the local one-ton bakkie market a year from now.

By Roger Houghton

Classic COrner & REStoration

Classic cars are the next big investment. As such the sector of restoration is growing in the realms of collision repair and it’s definitely the “sexier” side of the business. There are many opportunities to create exotic special-builds as well as keep timeless beauties in mint condition.

DRIVEN

With three motoring-journalists on our staff, we are able to test drive and review some of the latest models available on our roads as well as attend the latest model launches.

TRAINING

Knowledge is power. Training is key to up-skilling repairers as models launch onto our local roads faster than we can count. We also need to grow new talent into the collision repair industry. Courses are available to help and organisations are in place to train - this information is in Industry Index.

classic corner & resoration

Classic cars are the next big investment. As such the sector of restoration is growing in the realms of collision repair and it’s definitely the “sexier” side of the business. There are many opportunities to create exotic special-builds as well as keep timeless beauties in mint condition.

Driven

With three motoring-journalists on our staff, we are able to test drive and review some of the latest models available on our roads as well as attend the latest model launches.

TRAINING

Knowledge is power. Training is key to up-skilling repairers as models launch onto our local roads faster than we can count. We also need to grow new talent into the collision repair industry. Courses are available to help and organisations are in place to train - this information is in Industry Index.

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