A large proportion of South Africans – around 15 million people – live and work in the province of Gauteng, home to the metropolis of Johannesburg. This area is recognized as the economic heart of the Republic of South Africa, known as the ‘rainbow nation’, due to its ethnic and cultural diversity. Johannesburg is also home to most of the companies involved in the transportation industry, which spans 750,000-kilometers of road network across the southern part of the African continent. So, it's exactly the right place for my team and I to support these companies in purchasing and using commercial vehicles through our range of financial services reserved for trucks and buses belonging to one of the TRATON GROUP brands.  

Rene Warming in front of the MFS logo.
Here, I am at our office in Modderfontein, a small town in the north-east of Johannesburg. Together with my team, I work to support South African companies procure and use commercial vehicles through our range of financial services for trucks and buses.

South Africa has a developing economy characterized by volatility and high interest rates. In relative terms, there are a lot of fleets operating in the different segments. We help customers with our tailored offers for financing their assets and also provide vehicle insurance. In doing so, we delve deep into the structure of each company that wants to buy a TRATON brand vehicle and check the cash flow, the financials, company structure and their business plan. In this way, we can assess and select companies who want to secure a finance solution from MAN Financial Services. 

When MAN Financial Services South Africa then assists a particular customer with the financing and operation of a truck, this is usually the start of a long-term partnership with the potential to flourish in the future. This is because there is a high and growing demand for commercial vehicles in South Africa, primarily due to the clear limitations of national rail infrastructure. In addition, our customer-oriented approach (which typically varies considerably from the conservative behavior of traditional local banks) makes us an integral part of the local economy – and we also learn to navigate stringent bureaucratic requirements and compliance regulations. South Africa is what you might call a regulated country. With our work in South Africa, we are supporting the TRATON GROUP's global multi-brand strategy and are ‘part of something bigger’. 

Unlike in Europe, the topic of electromobility has received not so much attention in the South African transportation industry so far. Because of the long distances and unstable electricity network, companies have, up until now, been hesitant about investing in e-trucks. A MAN bus with an electric drive is currently being tested in the area around Cape Town; in the third quarter of this year, around 50 e-buses are expected to be on the road in inner-city areas throughout South Africa. I see the greatest potential for the use of battery-powered commercial vehicles in South Africa within the sphere of local public transport and distribution inside cities. In the morning, buses take children to school or employees to work. In the evening, they return home. In between, there is enough time to charge the vehicles with electricity at the depot. 

Such new technologies and trends will strengthen our position as a captive finance company. Finance will increasingly be the glue that binds the different (financial) services we offer customers, providing them with new business models like subscription-based pricing.

What has impressed me most so far during my assignment as an expat in South Africa? The positive attitude of the people. Although there is a lot of poverty and crime, people are optimistic. They smile and are friendly – despite all the adversity. And that makes life worth living each day.  

I feel very much at home in Johannesburg. So far, I have visited Sun City, known as the Las Vegas of South Africa, and Pilanesberg, a nice National Game Park, with my family. Here we had the opportunity to see four of the ‘big five’ (lions, elephants, rhinos and leopards). The only animal missing was the buffalo, a shy and beautiful animal. My visit to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg was also incredibly impressive. A memorial to humanity and a place that reminds us how important it is to stop injustice and embrace reconciliation!


Greetings from Johannesburg