GREENSBORO, N.C. The new head of the Volvo brand in North America has set his eyes on a 13% to 15% share of the heavy-duty market, a significant jump from the 12.1% share it held in 2011 and the 10.7% recorded through the first 10 months of 2012. Only on the job as president of Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) sales & marketing since Oct. 1, Goran Nyberg has taken stock quickly and believes Volvo has both the dealer network and heavy-duty products to move beyond its long-haul niche and take that next step.
“We have to defend and strengthen our long-haul position, but we also need to take our share of business in the regional and vocational markets,” Nyberg told Fleet Owner. “My ambition is to grow in the regional haul and day cab segments with the VN and vocational with the VHD.”
Volvo is a major player in the global medium-duty market, but it exited that business in North America over a decade ago. Asked if reentry into medium-duty also figures into his plans for VTNA, Goran said he couldn’t comment on that right now beyond saying: “We will look for inroads to further grow business and will explore those we find.”
Under constant margin pressure, fleets value fuel efficiency and uptime highly, and Volvo is in position to add value in both of those areas, according to Nyberg. Using enhanced aerodynamics and other existing technology, the brand has already certified its 2013 models as meeting Federal fuel economy/greenhouse gas standards that don’t take effect until 2014. And other options like the XE low-speed package for its proprietary D13 and D16 diesel engines and its I-Shift automated mechanical transmission “deliver new levels of fuel efficiency,” he said.
Volvo’s new remote diagnostics service, which is included as standard for the first two years of ownership with any new Volvo, plays a major role in addressing the uptime portion of fleet needs. By remotely evaluating and troubleshooting vehicle fault codes and then streamlining any required service, “we estimate it will save 2 ½ days a year in uptime,” says Nyberg. “That’s real added value for a fleet given the high speed of business and demands on delivery times [in North America].”
Long recognized as one of Volvo’s core concerns, safety is also a driver of uptime, according to Nyberg. “The I-Shift is a good example,’” he said. “Any reduction in slow-speed incidents preserves uptime as even a small dent in the bumper has to be fixed at some point. Fleets that understand that will invest [in advanced safety systems].”
Calling VTNA’s dealers “a cornerstone,” Nyberg said “they believe in our long-term plan and see the growth potential.” Proof of that, he said, can be seen in their investing to increase bay capacity in 343 service locations 20% over the last 24 months.
Asked about future vehicle and powertrain developments, Nyberg said the company is “on top of the game with alternative fuels,” both here in North American and globally. Currently selling a VN day cab with the Cummins ISL G compressed natural gas (CNG) engine, VTNA has already announced that it will add a VN day cab tractor with the new Cummins 12L ISX12-G when it becomes available next year. It also expects to have diesel-ignited natural gas version of its D13 by 2014 here in North America and globally continues development work on DME (dimethyl ether), another alternative fuel derived from natural gas.
“Interest in natural gas is high here in North America, and from a technical point of view we still believe DME is the best alternative as it’s closest to diesel technology, but we’re staying on top of all alternatives and will be ready no matter where the market goes,” said Nyberg.
The bottom line is VTNA will only succeed in reaching his growth goals “if we bring the best value to total cost of ownership,” Nyberg said. “In the end, we have to earn the right to do business with our customers by adding value to their businesses.”