The deal was described as a new era for the Zimbabwe motoring industry.
Under the dealership, PAS will import and sell complete vehicles and provide back-up service locally. Other aspects of the agreement will see the extension of the franchise, enabling PAS to sell branded Land Rover goods in their outlets.
This week businessdigest chief business reporter Paul Nyakazeya (PN) spoke to PAS Business Development director Cosmas Marimo (CM) on their operations and the motoring industry in general.
PN: Your recent acquisition of the Jaguar Land Rover franchise pre-supposes that a number of high tech diesel and petrol-engine vehicles will be imported. How will these vehicles cope with the fuels available in Zimbabwe given that there is apparently no local legislation to define the octane rating of petrol and the sulphur content of diesel?
CM: Prior to our landing the importer status, we acquired detailed documentation from most of the reputable international oil companies operating in Zimbabwe, on the quality of fuel available on the market. It was concluded that the locally available fuels were within acceptable norms.
You must also agree with me that we do not produce our own fuel, but import all our fuels either through Mozambique or South Africa. On the other hand, these are very robust engines and our advice to customers is to carry out regular scheduled maintenance to avoid contamination.
PN: The issue of unleaded petrol is also wholly relevant as failure to use this fuel will be detrimental to modern vehicles. How will you handle this?
CM: As a country we have made strides towards rectifying these fuel issues. For instance we are made to believe that all the petrol coming through Beira is unleaded and that there are mechanisms to ensure compliance. We are also aware of government initiatives to enforce the use of unleaded fuel since 2006. High sulphur diesel has also been ‘banned’ in Zimbabwe.
You can clearly see that as a country we had prepared adequately for the coming of the Jaguar. However, our discerning motorist should always be vigilant and guard against buying low quality fuel.
PN: Will manufacturer-based warranties and service plans be available to Zimbabwe customers?
CM: Premier Auto Services (Pvt) Limited is the only authourised / accredited Jaguar importer in Zimbabwe and is fully authorised and capable to handle all warranty issues.
On the other hand, I am sure you see facilities in the banking sector opening up, credit becoming available and so on. I am sure it will not be long before you see enough support coming through to cover service plans. You see lease hire arrangements creeping back in already.
PN: Will the warranty be conditional on proof of use of an approved Jaguar Land Rover service centre in the event of any claim being lodged?
CM: For any warranty claim to be valid, one has to use an accredited service centre. These vehicles now require TLC (tender loving care) and we need to ensure that they receive attention from properly / sufficiently equipped facilities and trained technicians.
A service booklet is supplied with every car and authorised service centres stamp them at each service.
PN: It was obviously a requirement that you invested in the latest diagnostic equipment for your two new brands. Do you have the requisite equipment and staff know-how from Jaguar Land Rover?
CM: Yes we have invested modest amounts in the infrastructure, equipment and human capital. The latest diagnostic equipment –– Symptom Driven Diagnostic (SDD) and Integrated Diagnostic Systems (IDS) –– have already been acquired and being used in our workshops. Software and programmes on this equipment are updated three times a week and we are confident that we are always abreast of any changes or developments.
The technicians have been well trained as well as seconded to regional and overseas dealerships. Training, of course, is on-going and all technicians have access to internet- based training as well.
PN: What are the advantages of using this diagnostic equipment?
CM: The one upside is that this equipment is the only means of effecting any sort of diagnosis on the vehicles. The SDD and IDS leads us to pin point faults as well as display the faults and rectify them. What effectively was a long process of guesswork in the past is narrowed down to a quick resolution by using IDS and SDD.
PN: Given the relatively low volume of sales that can be expected in Zimbabwe, how will you handle the supply of parts for the two brands?
CM: We have actually got stock on the shelf already and we are always updating our stock fortnightly. Remember there are ageing Jaguar units in Zimbabwe already and we have started supporting them through our workshop. You will actually be surprised at the vehicle park in Zimbabwe; these vehicles are not actually very few.
PN: Obviously high value parts can not be kept sitting unsold on shelves, so what sort of delay will your customers face when parts have to be ordered from outside?
CM: We are confident that we are building sufficient stocks of parts and anticipating flows through the parts counter and the workshops. However, in situations where we have to order against an enquiry, we have entered into an arrangement with regional and overseas partners to have urgently needed parts couriered to us within five to seven days.
PN: In the event of delays, will customers with cars under factory warranty be offered courtesy vehicles as what commonly happens in established markets?
CM: The Jaguar brand demands world class service, we have had to invest in the best for the best. This is definitely one issue we are looking into as a way to exceed our customers’ expectations.
PN: Modern engines demand modern, purpose-formulated lubricants. What will PAS (Premier Auto Services) be doing to comply with manufacturer specs in this regard?
CM: I am glad that you asked this question and I know it is mainly targeted at the 5,0l supercharged engines. Yes we have imported the special lubricants for these high-performance engines. The overseas international suppliers of these lubricants are represented here in Zimbabwe and procurement is now within arms’ reach.
By Paul Nyakazeya