Hard-pressed small business owners are constantly performing balancing acts


Hard-pressed small business owners are constantly performing balancing acts. On the one hand, highly competitive environments mean that they are forced to increase service levels and cope with pressure on margins. On the other hand, they are being forced to reduce costs so that they can meet customer expectations.

One of the most examined cost sectors for SMEs is delivery vehicle costs, says Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa, adding that some manufacturers, like Datsun, are now focused on addressing these concerns head-on. The trend is around supplying vehicles that meet market needs. The traditional commercial delivery vehicle market is changing rapidly. The normal choice for deliveries; namely the bakkie, panel van or larger vehicle is being challenged as urban environments become more crowded.Owners and fleet operators are taking a new look at their vehicles and their capabilities. Coming under the microscope are congested city streets, the difficulties of using some vehicles in urban areas, vehicle task suitability, load security, versatility and driver ergonomics.

To this list, cost must be added. This is a vital consideration in an economy where the small business sector contributes about 40% to the national GDP, and has a capacity for employment that outstrips the established corporate sector. Creating a commercial vehicle that keeps costs in check so that a business owner can concentrate on building a business, and job opportunities, is critical. Enter vehicles like the Datsun GO+ Panel Van, which are changing the ‘dashboard’ of individual and fleet operator needs. When compared to other commercial options, and the strict criteria applied to the acquisition of a major business cost item, vehicles like the Datsun GO+ Panel Van are increasingly being favoured. This is because they are ‘fit for purpose’.

The advantages they offer include: 

  • Being built and developed on well-known compact sedan bodies and therefore sharing the low-cost characteristics associated with sedans. Compact and fuel efficient, they are easier to drive on busy city streets and easier to park.
  •  More efficient use of load space. It doesn’t make sense to deliver items in a bakkie or larger vehicle. In most cases, the operator pays for the costs of carrying around a heavy canopy above an almost empty load.
  • The more a panel van can carry in its more efficient body, the more cost effective deliveries become. For the Datsun GO+ Panel Van, this means a carrying capacity of 542kgs - about 267kgs more than its closest priced competitor.
  • Allied to carrying capacity is load volume. These volumes may vary from vehicle to vehicle, but the Datsun offers an impressive 3.4m3.
  •  Maintenance costs offered by sedan-based delivery vans are lower than larger vehicles. The 2016 Kinsey Report reveals, for instance, that the costs for the Datsun GO+ Panel Van, because it shares the same running gear as the Datsun GO, make it the undisputed South African leader in its segment. 
  • The major plus is that because maintenance and repair costs are lower, so is the cost of insurance.
  • Running costs are where new-style delivery vehicles really earn their stripes. They do it kilometre by kilometre through great fuel consumption. In the case of the Datsun, this is less than 5.2 per 100km.
  • Instead of goods lying visible under a canopy, a solid partition separates the cargo area from the driving compartment in the modern version of a panel van. The divider is topped with a sturdy mesh grille which keeps loads where they should be. Dark tinted smash and grab protected rear windows add a further layer of protection.

Car-like comfort, ergonomic seating and air conditioning ensure that the new generation of commercial vehicles reduces driver fatigue. Safety and productivity levels therefore increase - a great return on investment for a business person who may rely on a single, or a few vans to get products to market. Picking up and dropping off packages and products have also become simpler and safer. Access to the loading bay is through a rear hatch and two rear doors. The driver can always position himself away from the primary traffic flow when working from the loading bay.Cosmetically, because of being derived from sedans, the new generation panel vans are also more appealing, especially when they undergo the full ‘wrap’ treatment which transforms the vans into affordable travelling advertising billboards.

And so, we return to vans in the 21st century, becoming tools that are purchased because they are ‘fit for purpose’. The advents of electronic monitoring systems now allow fleet managers to examine all aspects of their transport requirements and costs. The result is that a delivery vehicle is being selected to undertake specific tasks.Selecting a van on its purpose, how efficiently it will perform and how affordably it will complete tasks are becoming the criteria on which successful operations are analysed

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