Beijing Auto Works has been selling minibus-taxis in SA since 2013.
BAW’s 16-seater minibus, the Sasuka, has gradually gained traction in the local market, trading as is usually the case for new market entrants on price.
It is obvious to anyone who cares that the SA taxi industry is indispensible to our economy and society, but less so how providing transport to the least well off generates serious challenges when it comes to maintainance and safety.
BAW are of course well aware of this obstacle for taxi owners and have set about serving a niche in the market.
Their latest introduction to the market is the BAW Sasuka powered by a diesel engine.
The 2.8 litre turbo diesel engine offers 92kW and 320 Nm of torque, making it a fairly unique 16-seater option on the local market. The superior tractive power of the diesel will be a boon to drivers tackling regular hills and with a claimed fuel consumption of just 11.9 l/100.
What is more, for those operating in rural areas diesel is often far easy to source and much safer to transport than petrol.
BAW realise that building a brand in one of the toughest industries in the country requires more than just a cynical drive to sell taxis for less than the opposition does.
BAW’s new Sasuka diesel will enjoy the same comprehensive service plan as its original petrol version– 2 years or 100 000 km.
This can be extended by an optional 2 year 200 000km service plan.
The warranty can be optionally extended to 500 000 km on mechanicals, while on rentals there is the furthur option of a 5 Year 500 000 km service plan, AA Road Side Assistance including a full tow plan to nearest dealer and Active VOR (Vehicle Off Road) Programme managed from HQ.
This means the Sasuka gets a filter and lubricant service at 15 000 km intervals, new brake pads with each service, new brake linings and engine coolant replacement at specific intervals and access to 24- hour AA recovery service.
BAW have not forgotten the real customers – the working folk and elderly who have to pile into these vehicles every day.
To this end the Sasuka gets seating that is sculpted and includes a headrest. There is front and rear airconditioning as well as heating and a central DVD screen.
In addition to the diesel Sasuka there are plans in place to develop an entry level diesel Sasuka, panel van, tour bus and commuter vehicles to meet South African and neighbouring countries’ demand, and to increase their market share.
This will also increase the comprehensive competitiveness of the BAW South Africa product range. To ensure quality control a 2 year/100 000 km warranty will be provided by BAW South Africa with the vehicle.
With two full-service derivatives now on the market, BAW is further committing to the local taxi economy with the development of its manufacturing plant in Springs.
The soil-turning ceremony for the new factory was held earlier this year, and development is on schedule and due to be completed in the second half of 2018.