Why Dubai was the right place for the MENA launch of the new Actros and Arocs
Over the course of two days in March, Mercedes-Benz Trucks MENA brought together many of the region’s biggest truck owners and enthusiasts to give the new Actros and Arocs a spectacular start in the Middle East and Africa. In an interview with T&FME, general manager Marc Legeay explains why.
Let’s start by asking why did you choose Dubai as the venue for what is a MENA-wide launch?
Dubai is obviously not only a major hub for the Middle East and Africa region, it’s also the city where we as Daimler Commercial Vehicles Regional Office MENA are based. Above all, Dubai provides excellent facilities and the infrastructure, which are required for event with such a scope.
It was a very spectacular event, you must regard the MENA as an important region. Why is that?
Indeed, the MENA region is very important to Daimler Commercial Vehicles and Mercedes-Benz Trucks in particular. We are deeply rooted here in the region, as our business relationships with our General Distributors started in the early 1950s. We have been playing a leading role in supporting the development of this region over decades, and we want to continue to further contribute to its future growth and prosperity.
How do you feel the event went?
The regional launch event was a great success. Our customers and business partners experienced not only a unique and spectacular light and laser choreography off the coast of Dubai with the trucks on floating platforms, but also an on- and off-road experience with the trucks which left everyone thrilled.
We received a lot of positive feedback from respected media channels and directly from our customers during and after the regional launch. The on- and off-road experiences were very well received by those who attended.
In-region testing is fairly standard today but you seem to have gone over and above the norm ahead of this launch. How was it conducted – and did you need to prioritise any systems that may be pushed to the limit by regional conditions?
A range of New Actros and Arocs trucks have been extensively tested over the past couple of years in our Testing Center based in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The focus was set on the conditions faced in this region, like hot temperatures, dust, heavy loads, challenging terrain and also high sulphur diesel. Our trucks had outstanding performances in the harshest conditions and have passed more than 6 million kilometres of testing performed here in the UAE.
Will you need further any testing for the African market launches?
Mercedes-Benz Trucks is conducting tests all around the globe – from winter testing in Sweden to endurance testing in Australia and South Africa. But one thing is for sure: a truck performing under the conditions we face here in the UAE will perform anywhere else around the globe!
You’re launching with both Euro IV and Euro V options – which sectors/territories do you expect to opt for the Euro V?
Given that the Euro IV legislations are already in place, our customers in the UAE and Morocco will opt for Euro IV and V.
A lot of truck makers will be planning launches around those new emission standards in the UAE – how important was it to make a statement early in the year with this launch?
Mercedes-Benz Trucks is well known for its technology innovations and leadership position in the truck industry. In Europe, we were the first ones introducing Euro VI – now our objective is to continue setting the benchmark here in the MENA region.
How will the change in emission standards benefit the UAE?
The UAE are the pioneers in introducing new emission levels here in the Middle East and this asserts this country’s ambition in striving for excellence, high-tech and sustainability.
Coming back to the trucks themselves, you can tell it is a new generation when a change in engine options is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to (a very long list) of new features.
The New Actros is made for long-haulage transportation and distribution tasks, providing highest reliability and efficiency for our customers. When operations get tougher, we are now offering a supremely robust product. Both the Actros and Arocs come with new, highly efficient, reliable and performant in-line 6-cylinder engines available in Euro III, IV and V configurations, and a drivetrain ‘100% made by Mercedes-Benz’. Additionally, both truck model ranges are equipped with the latest, fully automated Mercedes PowerShift 3 transmission as standard, which is – uniquely in the market – also available in a 16-speed variant for demanding operations. Last but not least, our customers will enjoy the new spacious and comfortable cabs, and an unmatched choice of safety features.
What is your view on how competitive the heavy-duty segment in the region is becoming? Will your distributors have a role in ensuring the new Arocs, for instance, is a success with off-road transporters?
We are seeing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) approach becoming more and more important here in the region, especially for fleet customers. Besides the right product offer, tailor-made service packages are key for the customers, ensuring highest profitability and uptime for their fleet. Our Authorised General Distributors play a vital role here in consulting the customers professionally, providing the perfect transport solution, including the mentioned tailor-made service offer, which includes for instance service contracts and extended warranty packages.
When it comes to the New Arocs, we and our general distributors have now an extremely robust and reliable product in the portfolio, providing by far more variants and options to customers in the construction and off-road segments than ever before.
Do you think there may be pent up demand in the region as many people have delayed renewing their fleet because of tough market conditions?
As in many other markets, fleet owners here are facing cost pressure on the one hand, and the need to increase efficiency and profitability of their business. With the New Actros and Arocs, we’re offering new product and service solutions, optimising the TCO of customers, which is supposed to be important buying criteria for operators with aging fleets. These operators will in particular benefit from lower operation cost due to the fuel-efficient new truck generation, and also projectable service and maintenance cost covered by the Service Contract and Extended Warranty offer – which come with extended and flexible service intervals.
Talking about TCO, do you really feel that your customers habits are changing?
As mentioned already, the TCO approach is definitely a major trend. We observe that our customers are becoming more and more professional and mature in their approach of buying and operating. Getting the right product solution and operating at favourable cost per kilometres is paramount. We cater for these needs, with state-of-the art products and tailor-made service offers.
What would you say are other the major trends in the market?
In some markets like KSA and the UAE, safety features are becoming more and more important.
New trucks means new options in terms of fleets building the right vehicle spec for their operation. How are you helping customers wanting to use bodybuilder services?
The wide offer of truck variants and equipment, is definitely expanding now with the New Actros and Arocs. For example, we can definitely offer more wheelbases and frame overhangs in comparison to the predecessor models. We also provide comprehensive guidelines and technical data to bodybuilders, supporting them to mount their bodies professionally and effectively. And with our close relationships to bodybuilders, whether in Europe or here, we can offer the perfect complete vehicle solution to our customers, even for the most specific and demanding applications.
Finally, the Actros has celebrated its 20th anniversary in the region and has racked up millions of kilometres over the decades. Why has it been such an enduring success in the region?
The Actros has been a great success for Mercedes-Benz here in the MENA region with more than 100,000 units sold over the past two decades. And this success story is due to the excellent product, service, and the trust of our customers.