A range of improvements to its D11 and D13 truck engines, along with vocational enhancements to its I-Shift automated manual transmission (AMT) and other new product offerings are expected to help position Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) to capture more business in the “soft” commercial vehicle sales environment ahead.
“They really open to the door of opportunity for us in segments where want to grow,” explained Gӧran Nyberg, VTNA’s president, to Fleet Owner here in Hagerstown MD at the company’s powertrain assembly plant.
He said the addition of “crawler gears” to the I-Shift AMT will provide a “bang-on opportunity” to gain more business from vocational segments, especially heavy haul. “We have a great vocational [truck] product in the VNX,” Nyberg stressed.
He added that the fuel efficiency and performance enhancements for the 2017 iterations of the OEM’s D11 and D13 engines will allow Volvo to “cast a wider net” in terms of gaining more customers in petrochemical, bulk haul, flatbed, regional, LTL, plus pickup-and-delivery applications.
“It is a new year and the market has slowed down,” Nyberg said. “The super-hot market of 300,000 trucks last year will now lead to a softer year ahead. So now it is all about finding fuel efficiency, driver productivity and [vehicle] uptime for customers.”
Wade Long, Volvo’s director of product marketing, noted during the Hagerstown event – which marks the start of a rolling two-week product introduction process for the OEM’s dealers – that all of those enhancements should widen the appeal of Volvo’s powertrain options among fleets seeking fuel efficiency and lighter weights without compromising on performance.
In terms of the price tag associated with those new product offerings, Nyberg would only say that “any new feature comes with a value proposition, so price will be based on the benefit offered to our customers.”
Yet John Moore, Volvo’s product marketing manager for powertrain, noted that the return on investment (ROI) specific engine enhancements, such as the D13 engine equipped with turbo compounding should be fairly quick. “We expect it to offer an ROI of one and half years,” he said.
And such savings are no longer limited to just over-the-road customers, either, he stressed, especially when it comes to the crawler gear option for the I-Shift.
“Dump truck and [concrete] mixer fleets want to get into fuel savings,” Moore said. “With the I-Shift they can now go down the highway with lower engine RPMs.”
That’s because the crawler gear-equipped I-Shift can reduce rear axle ratios down to 3.14 or even 3.08 compared to typical ratios in the vocational segment of 4.10. “That means you can experience an up to 4% fuel savings when driving [vocational trucks] on the highway.”