Gates, the leading global specialist for auxiliary drive components in a variety of product families, is focusing on the heavy duty vehicle sector at the Auto Trade Expo, which takes place at the Citywest Hotel and Conference Centre on Saturday and Sunday, November 8-9.
Wim Goossens, Marketing Director EMEA commented: “From a strategic perspective a commitment to the heavy duty sector makes a lot of sense for us and our partners”, reasons Goossens. “There are six million trucks on the road in Europe. With an average mileage of well over one million kilometres, every truck has four to five opportunities for parts replacement with innovative and high-quality Gates products”, according to Goossens.
For comparison, in an average passenger car lifetime there are only two replacement intervals, although this is offset by the presence of 350 million passenger vehicles in Europe. “We are convinced that we can achieve considerable growth potential in the truck sector with our new range of truck products”, says Goossens. The Heavy Duty team has been working hard in the last twelve months to make this happen. In Frankfurt, Gates presented the new Extra Service product line for trucks, consisting of V-belts, Micro-V® belts and Drive Align® tension pulleys.
A commitment that will pay off and that testifies to good long-range vision, as the commercial vehicle sector, long dominated by OEM products, is currently in the throes of an irreversible revolution. To avoid unnecessary downtime and costly technical outages, for a long time it was common practice for fleet operators to take out comprehensive maintenance and repair contracts with manufacturers, particularly for the truck equipment, while spare parts supply for trailers (brakes, suspension and lighting) was handled through aftermarket channels.
However, trucks are now so reliable that it is only rarely necessary to take out costly maintenance contracts. Faced with declining margins and increasing competitive pressure, more and more fleet operators are looking for more economical solutions. As a result, an independent spare parts market has also developed in the truck segment. Gates has already tested the new European strategy in North America, where the company achieves a significant part of its turnover in the independent spare parts market from orders for heavy duty vehicles.
Goossens is convinced that the current trends in Europe are only the start of an evolution and that there is an attractive opportunity for Gates and their partners, which must be grasped.
“The situation is excellent for us. We are represented in all relevant European countries, and we are very well positioned both structurally and logistically thanks to our activities in the passenger vehicle and light vehicle sector.” Although the initial response from dealers and garages during initial field tests with regard to the composition of the product portfolio, pricing and service has been very positive up to now, Goossens warns against underestimating the details of the individual markets. A tailored introduction of the product line is therefore planned to enable Gates, along with their dealers and partners, to respond to local and regional conditions.
The aim is to grow faster than the market. “Just like the development of the passenger vehicle market, the key factor here is to be able to serve the customers faster, cheaper and more flexibly. We can score in the aftermarket sector with our expertise and experience, and of course with our OEM quality”, he says confidently.
In the coming months the Gates sales team will be conducting discussions with key partners in Europe to determine the current regional demand and provide even more information about the new products and services for the heavy duty sector.
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