GREENSBORO, N.C. – Volvo has increased its outlook for the North American Class 8 truck market, now projecting demand for 225,000 trucks this year, with stronger orders coming in the latter part of the year.
That’s up from earlier projections of 215,000 units. Magnus Koeck, vice-president, brand management and marketing with Volvo Trucks North America, provided a market update during a press event here Sept. 7. Overall, business conditions are healthy for truck makers.
A strong labor market and consumer spending are driving U.S. GDP growth. The manufacturing sector has rebounded, and construction and housing remain as strong as they’ve been since the financial crisis, Koeck said. Diesel prices continue to be low, and are projected to average just US$2.81 per gallon in 2018.
Volvo’s share of this reasonably decent truck market has shrunk, however, largely because line-haul tractor orders have lagged while regional and construction truck demand has grown.
“We are predominantly a long-haul, over-the-road company, so that, of course, has had consequences on our overall share this year,” Koeck acknowledged. But he anticipates linehaul tractor demand to return to its traditional range of about 45% of the total Class 8 market next year, which bodes well for Volvo. Demand for regional haul tractors is also expected to improve next year, and Koeck said Volvo is well positioned to take advantage of that with its new VNR regional tractor.
In Canada, Volvo’s share of the linehaul market has decreased from 21.8% last year, to 17.7%, mostly due to the loss of several large fleet accounts. It was as high as 27.2% in 2014, Koeck noted. However, he said the order pace in Canada has strengthened.
“We know Canada will bounce back and look forward to a really good year in Canada next year,” he said.
Volvo continues to succeed in selling more trucks with its own powertrain components; 95% now have Volvo power and 90.4% are equipped with the I-Shift automated transmission. Koeck said 2017 represents the most important year for Volvo since 1996, thanks to the launch of completely new regional and linehaul model lineups.
The truck maker cycled more than 3,000 people through its customer center over the past couple months to introduce them to the new models.
“We’ve had lots of positive feedback and a very good order pace,” Koeck said. “We have had an overwhelming response from our dealers and our customers when they experience our trucks and learn more about the features of our new trucks.”
Following the business update, several new Volvo VNL trucks were made available for editor ride-and-drives. We’ll have a full report soon.
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