HSTD is now the exclusive distributor of Mercedes-Benz trucks and vans, and Mitsubishi Fuso trucks in Malaysia.
Interview with Roland Schneider
Roland Schneider, Chief Executive, Hap Seng Trucks Distribution Sdn Bhd (HSTD), revealed the rationale behind the acquisition of commercial vehicle general distribution in a recent exclusive interview with Truck & Bus News.
Following the completion of the takeover on 1st November, 2018, HSTD is now the exclusive distributor of Mercedes-Benz trucks and vans, and Mitsubishi Fuso trucks in Malaysia. This includes the handling of the import, assembly, wholesale distribution and after-sales service of both brands.
“We are pretty fresh since the ‘D-Day’, which was about 2 months ago. In fact, we are following a timeless strategy to separate the passenger car and commercial vehicle operations, which is quite a common practice in many countries. HSTD is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hap Seng Consolidated Berhad, a public listed company on the main market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd. As a business with strong local roots and more than 40 years of experience in the commercial vehicle sector, we have not only the expertise, but have also established close relationships based on trust with our customers.”
Staff & Dealers Retention
HSTD had retained about 95 per cent of the staff from Mercedes-Benz Malaysia Commercial Vehicle (MBM CV), he said, which ensured a smooth transition as well as secured the expertise and experience of the existing staff. Thus, in Schneider’s own words, HSTD was a ‘green field’ company with expertise.
He also revealed that the company added additional staff in various departments. He pointed out that this was because the company was now completely independent. It would need to have its own dealer network manager, finance manager, just to name a few, to operate efficiently.
“In regard to the Mercedes-Benz and Fuso dealers, we are very happy that all of them decided to stay on. New dealership contracts were signed and we would take it from there. Of course, we have to improve the performance of the dealer’s network as we need to provide better products and after-sales services for the customers. However, we would work on that in a partnership approach.”
He stressed that this was not a defensive takeover and HSTD was willing to invest in the business. “We clearly believe that by having our operation split from passenger cars, which is a totally different business, it would help us to be more focused and committed to the customers and their needs. We are taking a mid-term approach and my immediate focus would be on customers, products and dealers.”
He pointed out that the company had to do more such as providing better services and training to dealers and enhancing their expertise and skill as well as product knowledge. “We also took over the training activities for commercial vehicles and the after-sales training would be run by us. We would continue carrying out and extending our training programme for our dealers and customers as well as technicians to ensure that they are well equipped to better serve their customers.”
As for new products, he said the company needed to look at different segments in the market and see what Daimler and Fuso could offer. “Singapore is the only country in the Asean region that has moved to Euro 6 diesel. With the current Euro 2 standard, we are not at the forefront of technology, which makes it a little difficult to use products from other countries. However, we are quite positive as this applies to the rest of the markets in this region, which is an opportunity for us. The Daimler Group is a leading global vehicle manufacturer and the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles with a global reach, and Fuso is an integral part of it. Thus, we are confident that we would able to provide new products for this region.”
Ready for B10 biodiesel
The Malaysian government has decided to use B10 biodiesel, which increases the minimum bio-content from 7 per cent previously to 10 per cent. This B10 biodiesel programme would be implemented in the transport sector and other subsidised sectors in stages from February 2019.
Commenting on this, Schneider said this was the Malaysian government’s initiative. He admitted that technically it was not easy for the whole industry, but they had to manage it. “It is complicated because we have different engines, different components and systems. This covered not only the trucks that you sell right now, but also the trucks that are already in the market for many years. Yes, all our current Mitsubishi Fuso trucks are compliant with B10 biodiesel. As for the older models, it would have to depend on what year that you referring to. If you are using a 20-year-old Fuso, you probably have a different engine and now we are using a different biofuel. Although it also doable, it is not easy and would probably need some kind of treatment.”
What are his views on the current market situation? He replied that 2019 would not be an easy year. He expected a slight slowdown in the market, especially in the construction segment as many big projects were kept on hold.
“The logistics and distribution segment would continue to be dynamic, triggered by the growth of online shopping sales for the last-mile delivery. This would lead to a higher demand for smaller trucks. We do not expect huge and positive developments this year.”
Despite the challenges, Schneider, who brings with him 28 years of experience and expertise dealing with Daimler commercial vehicles in various functions, is confident that the company would achieve its targets.
“Although we are a new player, we are well rooted in Malaysia and have considerable expertise and experience in the commercial vehicles business. We understand the market and have a clear ambition to grow; these are our strengths,” he concluded.
他说，HSTD成功挽留了马赛地商用车（MBM CV）大约98%的员工，获得他们的专业知识和经验，以确保顺利渡过这个过渡期。用施耐德自己的话说，HSTD是一家具备专业知识的‘待开发’（greenfield ）公司。