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First private-capital MAN TopUsed franchise opens in Port Elizabeth

With its parent company, MAN AG, in 2013 assigning priority status to its TopUsed vehicle divisions in Europe and South Africa, MAN Truck & Bus South Africa has issued its first independent TopUsed franchise to Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus, a subsidiary of AAD Group (Pty) Ltd, bringing MAN‘s national TopUsed footprint to six dealerships.

from left to right: John Lachenicht – Associated Automotive Distributors (AAD) (Pty) Ltd Director, Roman Szymonowicz - AAD (Pty) Ltd Chairman , Geoff Du Plessis, Managing Director of MAN Truck & Bus SA, Mike Elsbury AAD Truck & Bus (Pty) Ltd Director

Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus (formerly AAD Truck & Bus) has been an independent MAN new vehicle sales and service dealership since 2008 and is located in Algoa Park, just off the N2.

Geoff du Plessis, Managing Director of MAN Truck & Bus South Africa, who headed up MAN TopUsed world-wide from 2010 to March 2013, states: “MAN has always recognised the importance of a proprietary used-vehicle division as a value-driver in the sale of its new trucks and buses. Having an MAN TopUsed dealership in Port Elizabeth linked to one of our most successful private-capital dealer partners will significantly enhance our market offering in the Eastern Cape region.“

According to Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus Dealer Principal, Sash Mitchell, “Since the return of Geoff du Plessis to South Africa in 2013, negotiations commenced to grow the Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus franchise into a comprehensive MAN dealership, offering not only new vehicle sales and after-sales service, but also to include the international brand of MAN TopUsed.”

The franchise agreement for the first independently-owned MAN TopUsed franchise in South Africa was signed in December 2014 and preparations started on the Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus facility to accommodate the corporate identity of the MAN TopUsed franchise.

As an extension of the MAN brand, MAN TopUsed has well-defined quality management guidelines to ensure customers purchase with confidence, says Emir Solapgir, Head of MAN TopUsed SA. “There is 100 percent transparency on the status of every TopUsed truck or bus, with every vehicle on offer having undergone thorough checks to ascertain overall condition and to ensure the mileage is genuine.“

To further differentiate itself from competitor used truck and bus dealers, MAN TopUsed sales personnel are skilled to offer fleet consultanting services to customers, including optimum vehicle selection and the sourcing of trailers, especially to start-up operations, which form the bulk of TopUsed’s market base. Financing facilities via MAN Financial Services is another key market differentiator for TopUsed dealers, adds Solapgir.

With AAD‘s TopUsed dealership situated alongside its new vehicle sales operation, Solapgir points out that there exists a natural competition between a new vehicle sales division and its used vehicle counterpart, which MAN strategically mitigates.

“Customers have easy accessability to the MAN TopUsed website and are able to view our range of quality certified vehicles. Each MAN TopUsed Centre has access to the full range of the used vehicles in the Central Stock of MAN TopUsed SA and customers can purchase any unsold vehicle. Our vehicles are readily transported countrywide to customers from any MAN TopUsed Centre,“ says Solapgir.

Integral to improving the performance of MAN TopUsed dealerships is the positioning of the brand in the used commercial vehicle market, which is dominated by private (non-OEM) dealerships. The solid track record Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus has established over the years and its high-visibility location alongside the N2 will serve well in establishing the TopUsed brand in the region, says Solapgir.

According to AAD Shareholder and Director, Mike Elsbury, “our MAN dealerships forms part of the AAD group of companies which employs over 450 people and has an annual turnover in excess of R900m. The new TopUsed franchise is part of our long-term investment in the heavy commercial vehicle industry in Port Elizabeth and underscores the solid relationship we have with MAN.”

Vehicles forming part of AAD’s TopUsed dealership inventory will be processed and serviced at the Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus facility, constructed to meet stringent MAN international quality standards that extend across office and workshop areas. The 880 square-meter workshop has ten service bays and a wash bay, equipped with state of the art equipment, including proprietary MAN diagnostic tools, MAN-specified inspection pits and a brake roller tester facility.

“Operators in Port Elizabeth want to know their vehicles are being serviced by skilled technicians using the best equipment. Furthermore, they want their dealer to have the mobility to service on-site and deliver rapid roadside breakdown assistance. I’m pleased to say that MAN has gone to great lengths to train our certified technicians and to supply us with the necessary vehicle servicing equipment to keep our customers happy,” adds Elsbury.

For Mitchell, “MAN TopUsed is a recognised value-add to the MAN core business, not only supplying used trucks, but ensuring value retention from new to the remarketing of a quality product in a second life-cycle across di-verse applications. Port Elizabeth Truck and Bus will offer peace-of-mind trucking to our MAN TopUsed clients, with access to parts and service as is the case with our New Vehicle fleet owners.”

The unpredictable nature of commercial transport in southern Africa has made cost-predictability an increasingly important buying criterion for transport operators. Having a buy-back agreement signed with MAN and supported by TopUsed at the point of sale, gives the customer the assurance of vehicle replacement capital, while suppliers like Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus, gain a distinct competitive edge, says du Plessis, concluding:

”MAN TopUsed, with its wide product range, is ideally positioned to service those markets where start-up private capital fleets are coming to the fore. Strong brand equity combined with a wide selection of premium-quality vehicles with low price tags, presents an attractive option for all entrepreneurial truck and bus fleet owners in the Eastern Cape region. Port Elizabeth Truck & Bus has all the necessary skills and infrastructure to capitalise on the synergies that will be unlocked between its new vehicle and TopUsed divisions.”

For further information about our MAN TopUsed Centres and our product offer-ing, visit our website