Enter the Tiger

thesundaily – 3 July 2012.

If names are anything to go by, power and formidability are among the first thoughts that come to mind at the very mention of the king of our jungles!

In December last year, the Grand Tiger, a 2.9 litre pick-up truck originating from China, made its debut in our market and is making impressive strides, as it grows its market share in this segment.

While not many are acquainted with the name ZX Auto Co Ltd (ZX Auto), fewer still will be aware that this company has been manufacturing pick-up trucks for the world’s second largest economy since 1949.

Over the years, despite many renowned western automotive companies setting up shop in China, it is noteworthy that ZX Auto’s vehicles have held on to its spot among the top two local best sellers in that market.

Adopting a more aggressive marketing strategy in recent times, the Chinese automotive companies are now looking to grow market share globally.
The timing was just perfect therefore as Quek Wang (pix), an automotive engineer and a veteran in the pick-up truck and heavy vehicle industry, identified the growing local demand for durable yet affordable utility vehicles.

Orient Sun Motors Sdn Bhd was thus formed in 2009 to import, distribute and provide total service and support for pick-up trucks manufactured by ZX Auto among others.

Currently the Grand Tiger pick-up trucks are brought in as completely knocked down (CKD) units and assembled in Tampoi, Johor Baru by Oriental Assemblers Sdn Bhd a subsidiary of Oriental Holdings Bhd.

Market reception
However, one might be inclined to ask, why the pick-up truck segment? According to Quek, the segment is a growing market, largely attributed to the changing lifestyle demands of people. Seen as a convenient second vehicle for the occasional heavy-duty work to be done at home, it also serves as a reliable means oftransportation for small business owners, contractors or plantation owners. Thus far, pick-up trucks record the third highest sales in the country after sedans and MPVs.

Made in china
For a long time, people have been sceptical about China-made goods. But of late, this unflattering generalisation has been experiencing a change for the better.
With numerous world famous brands establishing their manufacturing plants in China, the transfer of knowledge and technology has resulted in a marked overall improvement of items produced there these days. As for the Grand Tiger, vehicle buyers may be assured that they are investing in something backed by 63 years of experience and expertise from a pioneer in the Chinese automotive industry. ZX Auto chose to focus solely on pick-up trucks building a reputation as a strong competitor to other established western brands competing in the unregulated auto market there.

Repeat Buys
On observing the trend of visitors to the main showroom in Glenmarie Selangor, Quek found that prospective buyers came in and would invest in just one vehicle to test its reliability. When they found that the Tiger lived up to its promises and delivered on performance and durability there were repeat buys from the same satisfied customers.Priced at RM68,888 OTR (on-the-road) for the diesel-powered 2.9L, this utility vehicle is the most affordable in its category. Most owners in the construction and plantation industry also realised that these hardy work horses are mainly used by their workers and supervisors who did not care too much for the comfort or trimmings that come with more expensive makes, as long as it got the job done. Hence, there is a growing popularity for the Grand Tiger among business owners in these particular industries.

Service and support
The company currently boasts 14 dealers in the Peninsular plus a dealer each in Labuan and Kota Kinabalu. In addition, 8 service centres throughout the country have been made available and are well stocked with spare-parts so as to provide vehicle owners with quicker service and maintenance. The present package offered is a warranty for 3 years or the first 100,000km.

Quek pointed out that timing was everything, as fiscal policies did have an impact car sales when they first came in. With the tightening of lending policies earlier this year, buyers had a hard time securing loans and this resulted in slower sales growth across the entire industry during the first quarter. However, things have improved and sales of the Grand Tiger have doubled in the last month, a good indication of buyers’ growing confidence in the model. Of late, they find that some buyers are even willing to pay a bigger down payment to procure the vehicles earlier rather than endure delays caused by slower loan approvals.

Quek is optimistic that sales will accelerate later in the year upon the introduction of the 2.5-litre model in October.

“The pick-up market is consistently growing and remains attractive with the expansion of our economy,” he said.

In terms of marketing plans, the company is looking to do more roadshows to promote the vehicle to a wider target market. Looking at the trend of Malaysian urbanites desiring bigger, more lifestyle-flexible solutions to meet their evolving needs, pick-up trucks are not something most families will do without in the future. Besides with the ‘terrain’ here getting rougher and more challenging these days, some might find it makes more sense to drive around a ‘tiger’.



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