There’s nothing worse than a puncture for ruining your day – or even your holiday. Now, though, thousands of tourists – and Kiwis – who rent campervans from Tourism Holdings Ltd (THL) subsidiaries will have the peace of mind that the solution is just a phone call away – even in the more remote locations in New Zealand’s North and South Islands.
In the significant deal THL, which owns a number of New Zealand camper van companies, including the well-known Maui, Britz, and Mighty brands, will contract with Hankook importers Value Tyres Ltd (VTL) to supply replacement tyres for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Volkswagen Crafter, Fiat Ducato, Ford Transit, and Toyota Hilux camper vans (plus new units from Renault which have just been added) as well as a number of LDVs and chassis/cab units – as many as 2,100 vehicles in total.
And to support the deal, VTL has set up what it calls its VTL/Hankook Service Partner Network across New Zealand, more than 140 independently operated tyre shops contacted via just one 0800 number, and growing every week.
Chief among the tyres supplied will be the new Hankook Vantra RA18 commercial tyre, which is an OE fitment tyre for both Mercedes and Ford, and the tyre was a clear winner when tested by Promobil, Europe’s largest motorhome magazine.
When the test results were collated the Vantra RA18 scored highly in all categories of driving performance, in particular wet weather handling and braking.
Says Martin Croft, Fleet Operations Manager for THL: “Our camper vans end up travelling the length and breadth of the country on roads with coarse chip and high camber, and we want our customers to remain safe and spend their holiday enjoying New Zealand.”
“Another critical factor was choosing a tyre company that could add value and ultimately lower the overall cost of running our fleet by having proven fleet management experience and robust systems.”
VTL was chosen after a robust tender process involving six tyre providers that saw some of the leading contenders fall by the wayside. “The tender process wasn’t just cost based,” he added. “We looked at safety, handling, braking etc. We looked at how they were in the world rankings, as well as which OEMs were using the product.
“We also looked at independent research and did due diligence among other users of the product.”
For VTL business development manager Randolph Tucker, the deal represents a dream towards building an even wider network supplying not just THL, but other major fleets.
“VTL is proud to have been chosen as a partner for THL,” he said. “Having the Hankook brand is a huge plus for us; Hankook is the seventh largest tyre brand in the world, and one of the biggest spenders on R&D. The RA18 reflects the advances Hankook is making through its massive R&D investment.”
He added that VTL had now developed a working contract with St John Ambulance to make use of the Service Partner Network to supply tyres, and was looking at adding other fleets, such as those from large corporates, lease companies, and Government.
Each Service Partner Network member is expected to carry stock of the tyres, and can be quickly replenished from VTL’s warehouses in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Dunedin and Invercargill, as well as at its headquarters in Christchurch, with delivery possible anywhere in the country in under 24 hours, and as little as two hours in some parts of New Zealand.
Randolph said the deal was made possible thanks to the close co-operation between Hankook and VTL.
Setting up a National Service Partner Network was not without its challenges, but really showed its value after the earthquakes in Kaikoura.
“Bob, the VTL Service Partner in Kaikoura, phoned to say his workers were looking for ways to help after the quake, and offered to secure camper vans scattered around the town, when they had been left by tourists who had embarked on the rescue ships.
“He asked if he could round them up and put them in a secure place and relocate them to Christchurch. That afternoon THL Operations staff helicoptered in and everyone agreed that would be a good idea, so the team got stuck in, cleaned up the vans – even emptying out the toilet tanks – and locked them away until they can be taken back to the THL depots”.