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Iveco discusses its 2014 sales and 2015 products.

When Davide Diana, Iveco's AME product marketing director, spoke to PMV, it was soon after the Italian automaker's 2015 Africa and Middle East (AME) business partner convention, which took place in Turin in March.

During the course of our hour-long conversation, it became clear that Diana was extremely excited about his territory. And why not? Iveco has invested a great deal of time and money in this region since the beginning of the decade.

In 2010, the commercial vehicle manufacturer sold a total of 9,000 vehicles across its AME markets. Last year, this figure had grown to around 12,500 units, a five-year increase of approximately 39%.

Though Diana and his colleagues are satisfied with this rate of growth, Iveco is not content to rest on its laurels. The firm wants to achieve AME sales of 13,500 in 2015.

"This year, Iveco's target is to sell 1,000 units more in the AME region than it did last year," Diana told PMV. "It's very difficult to make exact predictions at this stage due to instability in certain countries, but I am sure we will exceed last year's figure of 12,500."

Of course, sales rises are rarely accidental, and Iveco has no intention of leaving anything to chance. Indeed, the company used its recent AME convention as a launch platform for two updated products: the Daily and the 682.

"The Iveco Daily (main image) was already available in the Middle East, but we've released an overhauled 2015 version," explained Diana.

"This model is available in gross vehicle weights ranging from 3.5 tonnes to 7.2 tonnes. It can be ordered in either a van or chassis-cab format, making it extremely versatile," he added.

Encouragingly for the manufacturer, the 2015 Iveco Daily has generated significant interest amongst AME customers, with the first of the trucks set to arrive in the region next month.

"We expect to deliver between 40 and 50 2015 models to AME in June," Diana revealed. "We have received a number of orders from the Maghreb region - Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia - and we will also deliver units to the UAE."

These numbers are most definitely promising, especially considering the fact that the updated Daily was only unveiled in March. Even more impressive, however, are the sales of old and new models taken in combination.

"Since the beginning of this year, Iveco has sold 1,600 Daily units globally," said Diana. "Approximately 100 to 200 of these vehicles have been ordered by customers in the Middle East.

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"We are pretty satisfied with these figures. Take into account that the popularity of the Daily has grown in the AME region significantly during the last five years. In 2010, we sold around 1,000 of the vehicles. In 2014, we sold approximately 4,000," he said.

The second of Iveco's AME products to receive a 2015 update is the 682 tractor head (top left). This is a truck with history; from 1952 to 1988, an eponymous version was produced by Iveco's parent company, Fiat.

"The Fiat 682 was extremely popular in Central Africa," noted Diana. "To this day, you can still see models from the 1950s driving on the roads there. The 682 was re-launched in 2013 under the Iveco brand. Of course, this is a completely redesigned product; it does not share any technological features with its ancestor. This model is more a reflection of our expectations for the truck."

Iveco took the decision to limit the 682's 2013 reintroduction to the African market. The updated 2015 version, therefore, will be the first of these models to arrive on the highways of the Middle East.

"Initially, we limited the launch of the Iveco 682 to Africa because we wanted to make absolutely sure that the model released in the Middle East was suitable for the market," explained Diana. "Now available with a 13-litre engine, we have worked to adapt the 2015 verson for more challenging situations. For example, we've strengthened its chassis and introduced a vertical exhaust pipe. These types of feature make it even more suitable for the AME region."

And as with the Daily, this strategy appears to be paying off. Iveco is due to deliver its first 682 units to the Middle East in June.

"We will be sending the first 26 trucks to Saudi Arabia next month," Diana revealed.

"We're also in the process of finalising orders from the Emirates and other GCC markets like Qatar. Personally, I'm confident that we'll continue to receive significant interest from the region. Historically, we've enjoyed an excellent reputation in AME, especially in terms of our heavier lines.

"I think that these lighter products - the Daily and the 682 - will allow us to continue growing our business across the region. They will help us maintain our core activities whilst growing our line-up," he added.

Another focus at Iveco's 2015 AME convention was the Astra HD9, a heavy-duty vehicle designed primarily for off-highway applications within the construction and quarrying sectors.

"As part of our heavy-duty Astra brand, the HD9 is intended mainly for off-road tasks," Diana told PMV.

"Of course, we think the Astra line-up is particularly suited to a region like the Middle East, which is growing so quickly in terms of construction activities. The HD9 has been available in the AME region since last year, but it's a model on which we'll also be focusing heavily during 2015," he said.

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Interestingly, Iveco's 2015 AME convention wasn't intended solely to showcase products. The manufacturer also used the event to create fresh partnerships with commercial vehicle body builders.

"We are currently in negotiations with a number of companies, most of which are based in Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza)," explained Diana. "The majority of these negotiations arose from specific meetings that took place during our AME convention.

"Partnering with a body builder in the UAE could result in several advantages, not only for the Middle East but for Africa as well. The main advantage is not so much cost, rather specifications. Working in this way will allow us to produce products that are specifically tailored for the AME region," he concluded.

There can be no denying that Diana and his colleagues have a lot going on across their AME markets at present. Nevertheless, a combination of established products, such as the Iveco Trakker (top left), and bespoke newcomers, such as the Daily and 682, could well serve to further strengthen the firm's foothold in the region.

If sales continue along a similar course, AME could well prove to be one of Iveco's most profitable markets for the foreseeable future.

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Publication:Construction Week
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:May 5, 2015
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