Innovation and Resilience: Pupkewitz Motors Leads the Way in Namibia's Growing Vehicle Sales

Vehicle sales have increased but supply constraints remain.

Vehicle sales over the 12-month period to March this year have shown an increase of 20%, but supply constraints are still a problem. According to Anton Westraadt, managing director of Pupkewitz Motors, “The growth we have seen should be viewed in the context of supply constraints which are still prevalent.”

Anton points out that the motor industry has seen an abnormal increase in used vehicle pricing. He attributes this increase to a short supply of new vehicles, which has increased demand for used vehicles, and consequently pushed up the prices.

“This trend we have seen is in line with international patterns in used vehicles,” Anton said. “However, as the supply of new vehicles has started to recover, demand for used vehicles has seen an adjustment, resulting in the pricing of used vehicles normalising.”

The other trend mentioned is that the industry is witnessing customers driving their vehicles for longer periods, and not replacing them as often as they used to.

This pattern is driven not only by the increase in new vehicle pricing, but also by consumer spending being under pressure and consumers financing vehicles over extended periods, with the result that the consumer takes longer to achieve sufficient equity in their vehicle to be prepared to buy a new one.

The other trend is an increase in the number of brands and models available to the consumer, resulting in intense competition among automotive brands.

When speaking about factors that are expected to impact the growth of the Namibian automotive industry over the next five years, Anton notes that vehicle sales are very often seen as an indicator of economic growth of a market or country. “In the short to medium term we foresee lower growth, more in line with Namibia’s GDP growth. Fast forward five to ten years, and once the economy starts seeing the benefits of growth in the economy as a result of oil discoveries, green hydrogen, and other related sources of growth, one is likely to see double-digit growth in vehicle sales.”

Commenting on technological advancements and the future of the automotive industry in Namibia, Anton points out that for every ten experts in this field, there are probably twenty differing opinions.

“We have recently seen a sharp increase in hybrid vehicles, driven by the sharp increase in fuel prices, since hybrids are typically more economical when it comes to fuel consumption. There has been an increase in the launch of fully electric vehicles (EV’s) in the South African market, with a number of models sold in Namibia as well, but with the challenges of steady electricity supply, and our vast distances we travel, full EV’s may not be the answer to our market.”

One of the biggest challenges the motor industry faces is a fight for talent. Over the years, for its part, Pupkewitz Motors has played a pivotal part in skills development relevant to the motor industry. This has been through their automotive technician training (apprenticeships), sales trainee programmes and graduate trainee mentorship.

“The industry offers great opportunities, not only for a job, but for a rewarding career, to individuals who are passionate about the industry, who are eager to learn, and willing to work hard to achieve organisational and personal goals,” says Anton.

Regarding Pupkewitz Motors positioning itself to capitalize on the anticipated growth opportunities in the Namibian automotive industry, it is important to stay connected to our customers, to understand changing needs of customers, and to ensure that Pupkewitz Motors remain relevant in offering hassle-free mobility solutions to customers. In this regard, Anton says Pupkewitz Motors will continue to enhance customer centricity and efficient processes, “by understanding the customer journey, personalising experiences, investing in digital platforms, streamlining processes, and actively seeking customer feedback. Through this we will continue to build long-lasting relationships with our customers.”

On a personal level, Anton says as a leader in the automotive industry, he has learnt several key lessons that have helped him steer his team and organisation towards success. Additionally, he says while there are generic management and leadership principles that apply across industries, there are some considerations unique to the automotive industry that stand out.

The lessons he lists include focusing on employees. In the automotive industry, employees are critical to delivering an exceptional customer experience. “As such, every single day, we need to prioritize our employees and ensure that they have the tools, training, and support they need to serve our customers effectively. By investing in our employees, we are investing in our customers.”

Furthermore, Anton says, “In the automotive industry, we need to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate our customers' needs. This means keeping up with trends, technologies, and changing consumer preferences. By doing so, we can provide our customers with the products and services they need, when they need them, and in a way that exceeds their expectations.”

Equally, he lists managing working capital in a capital-intensive industry as a critical consideration in the automotive industry. “We need to strike a balance between investing in inventory to meet our customers' diverse needs, while still running a profitable business with healthy returns. This requires careful financial management and a deep understanding of our business and market dynamics.”

He adds that making decisions with precision is another important lesson he has learnt over the years. “When it comes to decision-making in the automotive industry, it is crucial to take the time to consider all relevant facts and information carefully. However, once a decision is made, we cannot waste any time in executing it with precision. This requires strong leadership, effective communication, and a culture of accountability.”

Anton says he has also learnt the importance of optimizing human and technology resources. He adds that finding the optimal blend between human intervention and technology-driven processes is critical in the automotive industry. “We need to leverage technology to automate and streamline processes, while still maintaining a human touch to provide personalized customer experiences. This requires a deep understanding of our customers' needs and preferences and a willingness to invest in technology and innovation.”

In summary, Anton says that as a leader in the automotive industry, he has learned the importance of prioritizing employees, anticipating customer needs, managing working capital, making decisions with precision, and optimizing human and technology resources. “By focusing on these key considerations, we can deliver exceptional customer experiences, drive business growth, and stay ahead of the competition.”

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