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Scania SA: Stepping up sustainability

One of these days you may stop at a fuel station to fill up your Scania with Eskom and diesel!

“For us at Scania it is all about values, respect for the individual, a culture of service delivery and customer first approach,” says Erik Bergvall, the new Managing Director of Scania in Southern Africa.

Erik’s career at Scania began fifteen years ago when he did his practical internship at the company as part of completing his master’s degree in industrial engineering and management. Initially involved in international procurement, sales, and marketing, he was appointed Manager of the Scania branch in Münster/Osnabrück, Germany in 2014.

He says this is where he learned how important direct contact with customers is and what a difference it makes to understand what they are doing. In 2016, he was appointed Regional Manager in the north-western region of Germany where he gained experience managing other dealers.

In 2019, he accepted the responsibility as Managing Director of Scania in the Middle East. There he had to keep the wheels rolling through the difficult COVID time.

At the beginning of April, Erik moved to Johannesburg with his wife, and their three young sons, aged 3, 6 and 9, to take over the reins here. This is not the Swedish family’s first foreign relocation. Before South Africa they were first in Germany, where he was Regional Director and then the Middle East, where he was Managing Director. While the culture of the different countries may be different, it is easy to feel at home in a Scania office, irrespective of location, because all over the world, the Scania family share the same values and culture.

Erik says that shortly after his arrival, one of Scania’s customers who regularly do cross-border transport thanked him for the culture instilled at Scania. He says it does not matter whether his people walk into a Scania office or workshop in Namibia or the southern tip of South Africa, everywhere they go, they are greeted with the same attitude of service delivery.

“This is how it should be,”

says Erik.

Scania is about people – the people who work there and our customers. Scania’s operating systems are just as user-friendly as the company’s trucks.

One-stop service now even easier

Erik says more than half of the vehicles sold by Scania are also financed by the company itself. The one-stop service will now be made even easier for buyers in the future, as the sales organisation is now responsible to promote the vehicles along with service contracts and financial services.

This means that the structuring of the packages is more suitable to the customer’s needs from the beginning and the financing process being more seamless for the customers.

“It is important for us to understand our customers businesses with their short-and long-term goals, so that we can make the right recommendations,”

says Erik.

“All our packages are flexible and this is very important, especially for farmers who experience seasonal pressure. With our Fleet Management System, we can better understand the operations of our customers and the utilisation of their trucks. In turn, we can offer them our Flexible Maintenance solutions to ensure their vehicles are being maintained and serviced at the correct intervals specifically for their business needs.”

Smart monitoring and communication equipment in each truck enables the owner and his nearest Scania workshop to know when it has to go in for servicing. This does not always have to happen at set kilometres or work hours.

Experience that matters

Erik says that although he knew that South Africa was a large, expansive country, he only really understood the challenges after his first tour to all Scania’s main local branches.

He says in Germany he also had a lot of dealings with farmers, but there, Scania can have a service point every 50 km on the main routes. In South Africa, farmers need other forms of support, such as deploying Scania technicians to service a fleet of trucks at their base on the farm and do repairs when needed.

Scania’s mobile support units also play a major role in Southern Africa in providing the necessary roadside assistance.

Erik says in Dubai, where his previous placement was, he saw some of the best roads in the world, but just like in South Africa, the country’s rural roads present their challenges Scania’s trucks are built to handle bad roads as well as smooth surfaces.

The restrictions and challenges of COVID hurt the transport industry, but he says the recovery was noteworthy, though not without challenges. Purchases of the raw materials for the manufacture of Scania’s vehicles are made worldwide and there were long waiting periods for certain materials that caused a chain reaction.

Business was almost back to normal when the war in Ukraine brought a new set of challenges, such as the rise in commodity prices.

Towards sustainability

South Africans also feel the bite of the war in rising fuel prices and if ever there was a time to make sure the truck you choose is not fuel greedy, then it is now.

Internationally, Scania enjoys recognition as the truck with the best fuel consumption and especially with the New Truck Generation series that was launched about three years ago in South Africa and six years ago in Europe, Scania has set a standard that is difficult to beat.

Erik proudly says that Scania has won the “Green Truck Award” in Europe for six years in a row. However, good fuel consumption and low carbon emissions are not all that the company focuses on.

“Scania’s plans which is also my mission for near the future, is very clear. Based on our science based targets, by 2025, our company’s carbon footprint should decrease by 50% compared to 2015 and the footprint of our vehicles on the road by 20%.

Erik Bergvall, the new Managing Director of Scania in Southern Africa, is excited about leading the company fully towards sustainability.

“My goal is to lead this exciting transition period to sustainable energy use in Southern Africa,”

Erik says.

Globally, Scania has come a long way with the development of electric trucks , but Erik predicts that trucks driving in Africa will have to provide for both options, diesel and electric, for some time to come, due to the distances to be covered and unreliable power supply.

However, Scania’s factories, workshops and offices are all on their way to using renewable energy.

Erik says just like with everything the company tackles, people are the most important. “I am here to make sure all our people understand where we are headed, to make our people feel that they are a big part of Scania’s success and development, and make sustainability part of their value system at Scania.”

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