Teresita van Gaalen, who took the helm at Changan Southern Africa In April this year, looks back on the company’s first half-year:
Six months have passed since the formation of Changan Southern Africa, with a mandate to revitalize and to look after the Chana brand on the subcontinent. And we’re on track to meet the targets laid out by our sole shareholder: Rand-Asia Trade Finance, a Joint Venture partner of the China Construction Bank, Johannesburg branch – in turn a major financier of Changan International Corporation and the world’s second biggest bank.
The strategy is one of consolidation, leading up to the total transformation of the brand and the operations in the sub-continent of Africa. While it is our objective to get back to the levels of 2007 as soon as possible – when 3 655 Chana vehicles were sold (despite not being represented in the passenger car segments) – of greater importance is to look after the needs of existing owners – of which there are some 8 000 – by revitalizing the infrastructure which they rely on for servicing, repairs and parts sales.
We now have 22 dealerships nationwide and with that process well underway we have been able to look at the next phase – transformation – and as part of that we recently introduced the facelifted Star II light commercial vehicles. We’re also excited about the launch of the Alsvin early next year, a model which will give our dealers a strong contender in the most important sector of the market.
But in the meantime, our dealers are able to provide consumers with exceptional value through Chana B4, the Changan Pre-owned programme. Refurbished and sold as used ‘demo’ vehicles, the Chana B4 vehicles which include Benni, Starlight I range and Rainbow represent a great way into the market for consumers who want a reliable, no-frills experience.
We have also embarked on a programme to independently test our Star II LCV and new CV6 hatchback (an evolutionary and vastly-improved version of the Benni, now priced and packaged for the wholesale market) to not only benchmark them against logical rivals, but also to assess them critically and look for ways in which we can work with our partners in China to continuously improve our products for South African conditions and market expectations.
We already know Chana products are exceptionally tough (who can forget the legendary 2007 odyssey when a convoy of Chanas completed a grueling 21 000 kilometre journey from China to South Africa led by the legendary Geoff Dalglish?) but realize that the goalposts move constantly and that we need to meet and exceed market demands.
CSA has a strategy to cement its place in the South African sunshine, across the SADC region and as far North as the DRC. We’re confident we can meet the particular needs of the region’s motoring consumers and more to the point, we are sure the brand to increase the size and depth of the market, by supplying vehicles which are first and foremost fit for the job, affordable beyond belief and in keeping with the new economies.