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‘Canada has gone fantastic,’ says Volvo exec

Posted: October 29, 2018 by John G. Smith

“It’s exciting times,” said Peter Voorhoeve, recently named president of Volvo Trucks North America.

AUSTIN, Texas – As Volvo Trucks expands its market share around the world, some of the biggest gains in North America appear to have been realized in Canada.

“It’s exciting times,” said Peter Voorhoeve, recently named president of Volvo Trucks North America. Across the continent, the company boosted its year-to-date market share by 10.5% as of this September. And the numbers were already up 8.3% in 2017.

“In a market that you all know is very hot,” he added, during a briefing at the American Trucking Associations’ annual management conference and exhibition.

Volvo’s year-to-date market share in Canada alone had risen 13.9% as of September, compared to the 10.2% growth seen during the same period last year.

“We have come back stronger than we hoped for — especially in Canada,” said Magnus Koeck, vice-president of marketing and brand management, noting how sales had lowered predictably as Volvo transitioned to new models including the VNL and VNR. “Canada has gone fantastic.”

The gains have hardly been limited to North America. Brazil’s year-to-date market share is up 20.7%, with South Africa up 17.1%, the European Union up 16.2%, Russia up 24.9%, and Australia up 15.3%.

All the gains are against the backdrop of an estimated 300,000-truck market in North America this year, and that is expected to continue growing to 310,000 units in 2019. January to September accounted for the nine strongest monthly orders ever. Truck orders in the third quarter were an astounding 215% higher than they were in the same period last year.

Current order boards suggest the sales would actually exceed 500,000 trucks in the year to come.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen, quite frankly, but it shows the market is strong,” Voorhoeve said. “Even when you take that ‘panic factor’ out, it’s a very big number.”

That panic factor refers to those who are simply ordering trucks as a way to insulate themselves from extended delivery timelines.

“The underlying economic performance of the U.S. economy is very strong,” Voorhoeve said, predicting that the strong market will continue throughout 2019. “It will continue to be hot.”

Volvo also continues to report the broader spec’ing of its vertically integrated powertrains, with 92.4% of its trucks built with Volvo power and 88.1% with I-Shift transmissions.

“This is what American transporters and American truck drivers like to drive,” Voorhoeve added, referring to the recently launched VNL and VNR product lines.

The company may not have entered the North American market until 1981, he said. But the products and dealer network have evolved.

“We’re on par with everybody else in this industry. Volvo Trucks North America is a North American truck builder with a Swedish heritage,” he said.

Koeck, meanwhile, referred to future technical advancements that continue to be realized. This June Volvo demonstrated platooning vehicles with FedEx. And this September it joined the $90.7-million Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions (LIGHTS) with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). That project will lead to eight electrified multi-configuration demonstration models and 15 pre-commercial and commercial units.

Volvo will commercialize fully electric vehicles in North America as early as 2020.

Other gains are being realized through connectivity, with features such as remote programming for engines, aftertreatment systems, and I-shift transmissions, Koeck said. Updates that once represented 2.3 days of downtime can now be completed over the air in less than 30 minutes. “We have just seen the start of the entire connectivity journey.”

Already supported through agreements with Verizon Connect, Omnitracs, and Geotab, Volvo has also signed a memorandum of understanding to work with Trimble Transportation Enterprise.

And in terms of future autonomous technologies, the company also released the Vera concept truck without a cab at all. “It will be used in confined areas,” Koeck said, referring to ports and industrial manufacturing environments.

But it’s one example of changes to come.

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