Scania set to truck into Phl

Kap Maceda Aguila - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Named after Sweden’s southernmost province, where the company was founded in the waning breaths of the 19th century, Scania initially made “engine-propelled carriages.” After the First World War, the firm was inspired by the success of Ford in the US, and envisioned supplanting horse-powered haulers. Today, Scania is a leading manufacturer of trucks, buses, and tractor heads, as well as industrial, marine, and power engines.

Scania has built and sold more than 1,400,000 trucks and buses globally, and now makes its entry into the Philippine market with the appointment of an official sales and services dealer partner, BJ Mercantile, Inc., which itself has extensive experience in importing and selling second-hand trucks, buses, and construction equipment from Japan, the US, and Europe.

BJ Mercantile vice president Leilani Lim-Tan, recently spoke to members of the press to announce the company’s appointment (signed in August) and reveal that Scania had actually been looking for local partners in the country since 2010—particularly since fuel and oil giant Shell designated Scania as its official hauler.

Importation of the CKD units from France will commence this month, with the launch of the flagship showroom set for February 5 next year, to rise in 1132 EDSA Balintawak, Quezon City. “Initially, we will be bringing in tractor heads and dump trucks first,” said Lim to STAR Motoring. “Then generator sets in February, then buses.”

The 5,000sqm facility will first feature four truck bays, then eventually grow as the business matures. BJ Mercantile has already sunk in P150 million for the undertaking, not counting an even bigger one-to-two-hectare facility in San Simon Pampanga, “depending on how the market grows” by the end of next year.

A part of the thriving Volkswagen Group, Scania, added Lim, is “actually one of four major European brands. I think that Scania is (at) that top end.” She lauded the ease with which they have dealt with the principals, describing it as a particularly “Swedish way of doing business… more relaxed, and we get a lot of support from them. It jives with our corporate culture, which is more relaxed and more customer-oriented.”

Lim also maintained that BJ Mercantile’s local business model puts more emphasis on the development of a service center network, rather than an army of showrooms. “We want to make sure that the trucks are up and running all the time,” she insisted.

The BJ Mercantile executive expressed confidence in sales prospects for Scania, foreseeing that the trucks will resonate in people who are very conscious about fuel efficiency, such as petroleum haulers. Lim continued that Scania’s solutions are very customizable—further emphasizing the brand’s premium quality.

Haulers and even miners are “surprisingly quite picky” about their trucks, revealed Lim, and they know the kind of load the machines will take, and performance they should deliver. Of course, more established companies also gravitate towards using brands that convey class, performance, and a certain snob appeal.

Scania is also placing its bet in the generator set business, in line with the much talked about, looming power shortage in the country. Scania’s solutions, insisted Lim, are substantial and are keenly targeting “industries that can’t be without power.” They come in models serving up outputs from 250 to 800 kVA and in open or canopy forms. “Our smallest gen-set can power a small building of six to seven storeys,” boasted Lim.

Even if Scania is already producing Euro 6-standard vehicles, Lim says the units to be imported in the Philippines are Euro 3-standard ones to be able to cope with our country’s existing fuel type. Still, buyers are expected to benefit immediately from great fuel economy that is among Scania’s vaunted value propositions.

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