WASHINGTON, D.C. – A 53-year-old former engineer from the Netherlands now leads Volvo Trucks North America, after a successful stint in Australia where he grew the company’s market share.
Now Peter Voorhoeve hopes to do the same as president of Volvo Trucks North America, and it’s happening already due to the popularity of the company’s new VNL and VNR tractors.
The truck maker has seen its retail order intake increase 215% in the third quarter of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. It has received orders for 63,400 new VNLs and VNRs.
“This means, we really got it right,” said Voorhoeve. “We very much looked at the driver environment. We want to offer a truck where the driver says ‘I want to work with you, but I want to drive a Volvo’.”
Voorhoeve said Volvo’s ambition is to be the world’s preferred truck brand, and it’s making progress in North America. Its North American market share year-to-date is 10.5%, up from 8.6% last year. In Canada, its share of the Class 8 market has climbed to 13.3% from 10.2% over the same period last year. It has also grown in the U.S., from 9.4% to 10.6%.
“Canada is just a really good story,” Voorhoeve said. “We have a really strong team in Canada.”
And Voorhoeve isn’t expecting the hot truck market to cool off anytime soon. Volvo is projecting 300,000 deliveries for the broader North American market, and Voorhoeve expects that to increase next year to about 310,00 units. Volvo’s also seeing fleets embrace its proprietary powertrain components; 92.4% of Volvo trucks are now ordered with Volvo power, while 88.1% come with the I-Shift automated transmission.
Voorhoeve has been on the job as president for about three months, and says he couldn’t be prouder. He says his strengths include exceeding customer expectations and working with people. And he plans to stick around.
“I came to the U.S. not as a temp. I came to the U.S. because they asked me to run the brand. To run the Volvo brand in the largest market in the world is not something that happens often. I’m going to be here for a while,” he said during a media roundtable at the House of Sweden in Washington, D.C., Tuesday.
Part of his mandate, Voorhoeve said, is to promote the driver.
“The driver profession deserves a better image, more respect,” he said.
Voorhoeve noted Volvo is still a young brand in the North American market, having arrived here in 1995, and that more work must be done to make it the industry’s preferred brand. However, he noted it has become a premium brand, as it is perceived elsewhere in the world.
“Volvo Trucks is a premium brand in North America,” he said. “I’m not sure we’ve always been that. We are that right now…I think we are there right now in North America with a North America-built truck.”
Voorhoeve also said Volvo will strive to be a leader in the areas of its traditional core values, including safety, and also in innovation when it comes to connectivity, electromobility, and automation. He cited the VERA driverless vehicle – showcased at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, Germany this year – as an example. But he also said Volvo’s aim isn’t to replace drivers.
“Technology will make the driver’s job more interesting,” he said. “We will see the job of the driver slowly changing, but we will always need drivers…I think autonomous vehicles in general will change the job of the driver, make it more interesting.”
He said new technologies will support the driver, help them become safer, but not replace them.
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