DUBLIN, Va. – Volvo Trucks North America recently finished building legacy models at its truck plant here, and is now producing the new VNL and VNR. And the timing couldn’t be better, according to Magnus Koeck, vice-president of marketing and brand management.
“We have a very strong market, it will be a good year,” Koeck said during a business update here before revealing the VNX heavy-haul tractor, the third model to be introduced as part of Volvo’s Shape of Trucks to Come brand revamp.
Volvo is projecting a Class 8 truck market of 280,000 units in the U.S. and Canada this year, but Koeck said it’s likely to be revised up during the company’s next quarterly report in April.
“That’s exciting, and timing-wise, it couldn’t be better for us,” said Koeck, referring to the launch of two new models last year.
Koeck said the labor market is strong, consumer spending is driving GDP growth, and the manufacturing sector rebounded last year and should expand further this year. Construction is doing well and diesel prices remain low.
The strongest growth in the truck market this year is likely to be in the on-highway segment, Koeck noted. It accounted for 42.7% of the Class 8 market last year and Koeck expects that to rise this year. Regional haul trucks made up 28% of demand, and construction 14.7%.
“We think all will increase,” Koeck said. “We expect longhaul to go up to roughly 45% this year – that’s where we see a lot of the growth coming from, with regional haul growing slightly to 29%.”
But with diesel prices expected to remain low, Koeck said no growth is expected in the natural gas engine market.
The new VNX is aimed at severe service customers, and accounts for a small piece of the overall market. Koeck said the VNX serves a segment that represents only about 2,500 units per year, but it’s an important one for Volvo and a segment in which it excels in other regions of the world.
“We are taking a further step into that segment, which will strengthen our position as a brand when it comes to our product offerings in the North American marketplace,” said Koeck.
Volvo has also set new highs when it comes to the penetration rates of its proprietary components. Volvo engines were spec’d in 94% of Volvo trucks sold last year, while the I-Shift automated manual transmission was found in 90% of Volvos sold. The VNX is geared for applications with gross combination weights of up to 225,000 lbs, and Volvo has brought in the Cummins X15 Performance series engine to meet the higher horsepower requirements of the segment. Its own 13-liter engine is also offered.
Truck News will have a full report on the new VNX soon.
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