The introduction of Renault Trucks International’s Used operation in the Middle East – complete with a share in the manufacturer’s recently opened office in Jebel Ali – has given the French company an opportunity to take on its Asian competition on their strongest USP, namely price. Now customers can get their hands on the newest T generation of trucks with Euro 3 engines as well as the ruggedised X Road set-up via refurbished used units from Europe.
These trucks are typically three or four years old and within a respectable running range of up to 500,000km. Put together at the Bourg-en-Bresse plant in France (see issue T&FME July 2019), the T X-Road variants are fitted with all the range’s trimmings including steel bumpers, strengthened cab access and protective grilles mounted over the headlamps.
Typically, the trucks are also fitted with the fuel-saving optidriver transmission (almost every truck sold in Europe is fitted with the automatic transmission).
Add a fine selection of features and options including added fuel tanks and hydraulics for tippers and trailer roles, reinforced filtration for local conditions and fuel, under engine protection and a roof beacon system, you can purchase the ‘good as new trucks’ with an extendable warranty and save a few dirhams and dollars in the process.
Renault Trucks International, Used Trucks VP, Alex Vosselman, has already seen units shipped out to countries as wide afield as Pakistan and the Africa market and says buyers can be confident of getting a truck that meets the company’s typically demanding standards.
“Yes, we are getting started; launching the T X-road Range in our region and delivering the first ones,” he begins. “The strength that we have is that we can downgrade to certify them at Euro 3 in our factory. So, we don’t put any boxes on or flashes – whatever you may call them – plus, we really make them robust For the Middle East and Africa region.”
He tells T&FME that the new service bridges a gap between the features offered on the newest heavy-duty vehicles and the need for fleets to run on higher sulphur grades of fuel in the region.
“Our clients really appreciate that they don’t have to get a Euro 6 sort of truck that may not work (‘will it work? We don’t know’). Really our core business now is bringing it back to a certified Euro 3; making sure the truck is robust with our X Road upgrades and preparing it for a long life in the Middle East and Africa,” he says.
Plugging into the existing Renault Trucks International network that stretches across the Middle East and Africa region means that the company can also add a warranty backed up by the firm’s distributors.
“Giving the warranty for it through our importer means that we are looking at a bright future,” he enthuses.
T&FME’s initial reaction is to suggest that this makes the trucks must be attractive for Africa fleets, in particular, but Vosselman insists that the Middle East market also needs them.
“In the Middle East you have a lot of short-term projects,” he remarks. “A lot of people are questioning whether they should now invest in buying 20 used trucks or 20 new trucks? (With new trucks) what if there are no projects afterwards? They may have to write them down in two years and have to buy a used truck.”
Renault Trucks International has been working behind the scenes to ensure that fleets can see the virtues of going for the used alternative if a new truck doesn’t fit their current financial or operational requirements. This has enabled it and its dealers to be more aggressive with their used sales, even offering fleets access to Renault-backed financing in the same way that they can for its new trucks.
“That’s why we also sit in the same office as the Renault Trucks’ new truck operation, we can work hand-in-hand and are not separated,” explains Vosselman.
Fleets are becoming much more knowledgeable about the overall costs of their vehicles in the region and Gregoire Blaise, VP, Renault Trucks International believes you can no longer describe a fleet as being solely a new or used truck customer. He adds that the having a number of used trucks active in the market can prove the reliability of the vehicles – and ultimately reassure customers that they will keep their value.
“In this industry the higher price you are the more attractive you are,” he muses. “I mean if look at the price of say this very nice Range Rover over there (he points out to one parked close-by) and the price of my truck, I feel mine are relatively cheap but used trucks are important even if you want to sell a new truck.”
Blaise gives an example of a recent visit to customer who hadn’t seen Renault Truck before.
“It’s not like we are an unknown company in the Middle East,” he exclaims. “But I had the opportunity to show him a used truck that had gone 500,000km with four or five years running. He was amazed by it. It was well cleaned – obviously – but after five years it was mechanically in an amazing state.
Blaise continues: “Showing this guy our trucks, showed him what we are. For me, used trucks are even more important than they are to Alex. If he is successful, I am pretty sure I will have an easy life.”
Renault Trucks International is openly prepared to take on new Chinese trucks with its used vehicles and believes it can present a compelling offer built not only being the value option in the market but also by plugging fleets into its deep network of service and repair shops.
“Frankly speaking, for me it is quite obvious that we are good at servicing these trucks as well,” he adds.
On the T range, Renault Trucks International is offering a six months and international driveline warranty. So a customer that drives from Bahrain and Dubai (for example) has support under warranty at each of the local importers. Indeed, distributors are playing a crucial part of the operation with the Renault Trucks International ensuring that cross-border fleets can get access to support throughout the region. They are also tasked in ensuring that services under warranty are delivered to the same standards wherever the fleet or vehicle is. (Vosselman adds that the flagship T X-Road trucks come with a one year or one hundred and twenty thousand kilometres warranty.)
“The international selection warranty gives a certain confidence to the customer that he has a warranty with the importers, with the dealers, and of course will be supported by us,” says Vosslemen. “Each truck is delivered like my colleague delivers a new truck. The fleet customers belongs to the same family, it’s not a used customer, it’s a Renault Trucks customer with the same service.”
“We are working through out partners. It could happen that Alex is sitting with a customer but most of the time the favourite of preferred channel is through our partners. We have been clear with them, we want them to develop both activities. We believe in that for their own sustainability.”
Renault Trucks has emerged as a reenergised member of the Volvo Trucks group in the region over the past half-decade and Blaise argues that the used operation can give it an edge in terms of market share: “Used Trucks is the way we can go faster.”
Vosselman adds: “I think in the customer’s eyes the risk is low. They can think ‘let me try it’ and let me see if everything that they promise me.”
Ensuring that the advantages of the used vehicles offered by Renault Trucks is well-understood is now one of Vosselman’s main tasks. Having arrived early this year, he brings a “lifetime” of being a used vehicle specialist to the role. He says that he has witnessed a lot of change in the market and is now overseeing how they can find a niche in the Middle East and Africa region while proving to customers that used vehicles can be comparable to their younger siblings.
“We are we are putting ourselves aside from the rest of the market, with our certified Euro 3, with our T X-Roads, with our warranty. You cannot compare us with a trader as we are taking the risk out of buying a used truck for a customer. We are in between a new one and used. That’s what we do.”
While the focus is on the refurbished T Range trucks, the company can also offer other used vehicles in the Renault stable. Vosselman says that he enjoys his work and the varied customers the operation is attracting.
“In the morning I can have a CEO coming in who has a 1,000 trucks in his fleet and in the afternoon, I can have somebody coming in who says that they really want to start a food truck business. We even sold a hairdresser a van.”