DUBLIN, Va. — A strong European truck market has offset weakness in North America, providing favorable industry conditions for Volvo Trucks globally.
Claes Nilsson, Volvo Truck’s global president, gave an overview of the market when visiting Volvo’s new customer center in Dublin, Va., this week.
Nilsson emphasized Volvo’s global presence, noting the brand has more than 2,000 dealers in 190 countries and assembly plants in 15. Its goal is to be the top truck maker in the world.
“We have a very ambitious target to be number one,” Nilsson said. “That doesn’t mean we necessarily want to be the biggest, but we want to be the best in the eyes of our customers. We want our customers to make more money and be more successful than customers of our competitors.”
Last year, Volvo Trucks sold more than 103,000 trucks around the world. The U.S. is its largest market, but industry conditions there have been soft the last two years. That seems to be improving, Nilsson said, though the company is sticking to its forecast of a North American Class 8 market totaling 215,000 trucks this year.
“We believe the market has bottomed out, and if anything, we see upward pressure on this number moving forward,” said Nilsson.
The North American market was struggling last year with excess inventory, which have since normalized, Nilsson explained.
“North America, today, for us is a much healthier business than it used to be 10-15 years ago, even with the lower markets we see now and last year,” said Nilsson. “It’s still a very healthy performance in terms of profitability and North America is contributing very well to our overall profitability.”
Goran Nyberg, president, Volvo Trucks North America, agreed that the truck market here is improving. He anticipates improving conditions for truckload carriers in the second half of this year, and into 2018, which should drive higher truck sales.
Breaking the truck market down by segment, Nyberg said: long-haul is growing, but impacted by lingering used truck inventories and low values; regional is improving thanks to a stronger manufacturing sector and changes in retail dynamics (ie. increased e-commerce); construction is strong and growing; but natural gas has fizzled, due to low diesel prices.
Volvo continues to make progress in growing the market penetration of its own powertrain offerings; 93% of Volvo trucks sold this year were spec’d with Volvo engines, and 91% with the I-Shift automated manual transmission. It’s also growing its fleet of connected vehicles, with 120,000 trucks now using remote diagnostics.
Nyberg said he’s also encouraged by investments made by its dealer body. It now boasts 420 locations, up 65, with a 51% increase in bay capacity, a 116% increase in technicians, 312% more master technicians, and an 80% increase in service capacity.
“This is a true statement that our dealers truly believe in the future of Volvo Trucks,” Nyberg said.
The comments were made as part of an event to reveal the new Volvo VNL and to showcase Volvo’s new customer center at its Dublin, Va., truck plant.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies