Adapt, evolve and thrive
Abu Dhabi conglomerate Al Masaood’s Commercial Vehicles & Equipment division reveals how the business is evolving to accommodate customer needs and environmental requirements
The heavy vehicle and equipment industry is undergoing a change. Customers, whether they be logistics companies or construction magnates, are no longer just looking to just purchase an asset they are demanding a whole suite of services.
Competition is fierce in this market which means customer is king. Truck and equipment manufacturers as well as distributors have to offer a lot more to woo customers than just the vehicle and its features.
Al Masaood Commercial Vehicles & Equipment, the Abu Dhabi-based distributor for UD Trucks, Renault Trucks and Unicarriers Forklift, has seen a demand for products that offer a whole suite of benefits from warranty, servicing to financing and driver training.
General Manager Mohamed Nabih El Zeftawi says: “With people choosing to shop online more and not in the malls as much, there is any increased delivery of products to homes, and logistics firms are benefiting. Which means there is a need for more trucks and lorries in the market.
“This has become more challenging for all the players in the market. We are in a very demanding market as customer expectation is extremely high. They are always looking for the best, and customers in this region are educated, they know what they want. The responsibility falls on us to approach customers and convince them that we are the best solution.”
Customer requirements have become incredibly detailed, he says. “The customer is no longer looking to purchase a truck but rather he is looking for a solution. When we talk of a solution, we mean a vehicle with a fixed superstructure and bumper-to-bumper warranty (most probably extended warranty – three to five years), which is risky for the dealer. The customer wants a peace of mind. In addition to that, customers are also looking for financing options and training for drivers.”
Al Masaood is also seeing a demand coming from the construction sector. With many construction projects put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, the market slowed down. However, as the pace has picked up, developers are fast tracking project delivery.
El Zeftawi adds: “Since the beginning of the year, we’ve witnessed a steady increase in sales. The first quarter was looking good, which indicates that the rest of the year will be better. We are expecting the last quarter to bring a big change in the market.”
The company has recently begun the dealership for Japanese forklift brand TCM. Al Masaood forecasts a demand for forklifts as eCommerce and eShopping are here to stay.
“The rise in eCommerce has positively impacted the trucks and machinery sector, and we are seeing a requirement for our vehicles. We are also increasing our market share within the sector which means that our turnover and bottom-line in increasing year-on-year. We are quite elated with this success, El Zeftawi reveals.”
He adds: “The region is quite busy, and we are constantly monitoring every movement in the market. This is the only way to be proactive and get a lead. We have noticed a difference in customer perceptions in the past few years and this has changed our approach towards our sales techniques. The UAE is a dynamic market, and we need to be quick in our approach to keep our market share and increase it each year.”
Al Masaood Commercial Vehicles & Equipment also has a fair share of hurdles to overcome, one being environmental issues. El Zeftawi, explains: “The country has moved to Euro IV and very soon it will jump to Euro V and VI. We were the first country in the region to apply this emission standards. It kept us a bit isolated from the GCC, but we are taking the lead and we are proud to do that.”
The distributor is also taking a head on approach to the electric vehicle (EV) movement. “We are overly excited to be support the sustainability initiative and are very keen to offer hybrid and electric options to our customers. We are working with our partners to provide these options in the region.”
Electric vehicles pose quite a few challenges for the region due to the high temperatures. Especially for heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses, the batteries are unable to withstand the heat – 50 degrees Celsius and higher.
He concludes: “A lot of our truck manufacturers such as UD and Renault are operating electric trucks in Europe, but there is a lot more to be done for them to exported to the Middle East. They are doing their absolute best to make this happen very soon, and we hope to be the first agency in the region to offer EVs to our customers.”