As the fourth-largest automotive manufacturer in China, BAIC arrived in South Africa last year to quite a wary market. Pronounced “bike”, this brand had piqued my interest right at the outset with their drive to promote quality vehicles at reasonable prices, which would enable more people to become vehicle owners. Having reviewed a few of their vehicles on offer, and seeing more and more on the roads, I am an avid supporter of their philosophies as well as their quality products and services.
BB Hatfield BAIC is the Dealership to visit if you are hoping to find out more about the BAIC brand. Promoting the D20 Sedan (1.5 Auto Fashion derivative), BB Hatfield is proud of the practicality and affordability of this vehicle.
André Gouws is the Dealer Principal for BB Hatfield BAIC. Having been in the motoring industry for around 21 years, André has a specific philosophy pertaining to Customer Service, which I feel brings deeper meaning to the terms “client care”. With his belief in the personal touch, André states that the Dealership is fully committed to developing and maintaining professional, trust-based relationships with their clients. The proof of the success of this philosophy is in the number of clients that come back for more products and services, often requesting certain team members by name. As a hands-on Dealer Principal, André is also proud of the fact that he believes he has identified the various skills and talents of his team members, and subsequently placed in them in the perfect roles within the Dealership that will benefit them, and the team as a whole, and the clients they serve. This is evident in the focus on training and teaching a customer-centric perspective to all team members over the course of the last year.
As far as Sales Managers go, Stefan Schoeman is one such team member who displays his pride in his Dealership very overtly. Having been drawn in by the BAIC, Suzuki and Renault brands, Stefan channels his many years of experience in both new and used vehicles to best assist the clients that come to him. With a love for motoring that stems from his school years, Stefan loves the combination of his two passions; motoring and working with people. As the most important person in the Dealership at any given time, the customer is Stefan’s priority. Forging a relationship with them means he can best support them with after-care services too, and this is often the reason they come back for more. Highlighting how this Dealership has been making a positive impact on the local community, Stefan shares with me that BB Hatfield BAIC is involved in local school fundraisers and donations that seek to better the lives of everyone in the direct vicinity.
Introducing me to Lauren Thomson, the Sales Representative for BAIC, I enjoy the enthusiasm of this young lady who is relatively new to the industry; brimming over with energy and excitement, Lauren is able to use this to drive her forward in her work, which she notes is motivated by the idea of seeing satisfied clients that are happy with the results of this major decision they are making (buying a vehicle is, of course, a big decision). Completely won-over by the BAIC brand, Lauren is appreciative of the thorough and comprehensive training provided by the brand’s Chinese head-office to their local team, which she feels is the manifestation of the manufacturer’s dedication to the brand.
Chatting to Lauren about the D20, she notes that thanks to its longer wheelbase, the vehicle is a spacious and comfortable car for someone as tall as she is, which is often a concern for her when driving other vehicles. As well as being jam-packed with features, Lauren notes that the D20 is also much better priced than any of its competitors, and would make the ideal first car, or reliable vehicle for the young family or professional that need all the tech, without all the pricing.
Released in both hatchback and sedan models, the D20 boasts an attractive design either way. I am appreciative of the efforts BAIC has made to style the vehicle with fluid, languid lines and a strong, bold grille. On the inside, the D20 also impresses with high-quality cloth upholstery and a cabin that really does look like the more premium-branded sedans – it is well-spaced and roomy, and I find it pleasantly comfortable. The D20 variant I am reviewing has a comprehensive infotainment system, climate control and sunroof which I always count as a bonus. Standard features on all the models are fantastic, and you get more bang-for-your-buck with this one vehicle than most others in its class. Features such as electric windows, rear-park assist, ABS, EBD, Isofix children’s seat mountings, height-adjustable driver’s seat, airbags and auto headlights are all standard features which often have to be paid for additionally in other brands.
The Sedan variant is released with a 1.5 litre naturally aspirated engine which provides a satisfying 85 kW and 149 Nm of torque. Whilst this isn’t a roaring big engine, it is on par with other vehicles in its segment, and still manages to be economical in terms of fuel consumption (which Lauren notes to be 7.3 litres to 100 kilometres for this variant), with even better results on the 1.3 litre engine models. This is, of course, a massive benefit in the current economy and with fuel prices set to rise yet again this coming month, definitely something that needs to be considered.
BB Hatfield BAIC upholds the ideal of providing superb quality vehicles at affordable prices, and Lauren adds that she has seen that this can be a reality, and that dealerships can and do prioritise their clients. Caring doesn’t end with the purchase of a vehicle at BB Hatfield BAIC it would seem, as there are also extremely generous warranties and service plans (which include a first service free) that form part of the BB Hatfield BAIC experience.
A 100% open door policy is part of the promise from the Dealer Principal, who asserts that he is fully committed to the customer by sharing with me that when a client was not satisfied with a particular product or service recently, he personally took the time to drive with them in their vehicle and oversee the complete repair of the situation thereafter. With a hands-on, invested and involved DP such as this, BB Hatfield BAIC is sure to continue growing exponentially – what a superb and fulfilling experience it has been getting to know this team!
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson