Expect Volvo Trucks in North America to work on making inroads into the vocational market as well as enhancing ways to benefit customers as long as they own the truck, under Goran Nyberg, the company's new president of North American Sales & Marketing.
After a whirlwind first two months on the job traveling across the country to meet customers and dealers (and finding some time to get behind the wheel of a truck), Nyberg spoke to HDT about Volvo and the North American market.
As of Oct. 1, Nyberg succeeded Ron Huibers, who recently was named president of Volvo Penta Americas, Volvo Group's marine operation. Nyberg most recently was managing director for Volvo Trucks' United Kingdom sales and marketing operations, and he has experience with truk dealerships in Europe in addition to other positions with Volvo.
"When I came here, I said the first couple of months I want to meet as many customers and dealers as possible," Nyberg said. "That's where you get the real story on how we are performing and the expectations and demands customers have."
When asked what impressions he drew from those visits, Nyberg said, "As a truck and as a product, Volvo is highly appreciated. We are delivering good fuel economy, it's appreciated by the driver, and of course safety's always ranked high."
Alluding to work Volvo has been doing to improve its dealership network, Nyberg added, "I'm happy to see the major investments at a number of key dealers. That gives me confidence we are improving our network and our private franchise holders are investing in our business. When it comes to the number of dealer locations we are quite well represented here today, and that's been maybe an issue in past years."
Thanks to that kind of investment, he said the Volvo dealer network has increased its capacity by some 20 percent in the last 24 months.
When asked about differences in the U.S. truck market to what he's used to in Europe, Nyberg said, "I think this market is moving quickly, the decision-making process is quicker, delivery times are shorter. It's a higher pace in the market."
As a result, he said, Volvo is "very focused on increasing uptime."
Nyberg points to Volvo's new Remote Diagnostics system, which recently won the Frost & Sullivan 2012 North American Customer Value Enhancement Award in Commercial Vehicle Repair and Maintenance.
"We can proactively troubleshoot the truck when there are [Volvo] engine-related issues. That is a technology that can be expanded and cover more of the truck as long as you have a proprietary driveline in the truck. I think it can cut down more waiting time when you come to a dealership because we can do the troubleshooting up front, inform the dealer what the trouble is, what parts are needed for the truck."
When asked about challenges and opportunities in this market, Nyberg pointed to Volvo's strengths in fuel efficiency, especially with the new XE integrated fuel-saving drivetrain concept, which is especially applicable to long-haul, on-highway operations.
"We have done a great job when it comes to long haul and we have a very strong position we will defend," Nyberg says. But he says there's a lot of room for growth for Volvo in other markets, such as vocational, an area where sister company Mack has traditionally been the stronger sibling.
"There are other segments where we have a footprint but there is definitely room for increased share of the business," he said. When it comes to the on/off highway and vocational market, he said, "there is room for both Mack and Volvo."
He points out that Volvo's vocational truck, the VHD, is now offered with Volvo's proprietary I-Shift automated transmission. "From a driveability point of view, I would say it is giving drivers an even more positive experience off road" than on highway, he said. and said it could be a "game changer" in that market.
"We will definitely attack the vocational business," he said.
Read more of Deborah Lockridge's interview with Nyberg in the January issue of HDT.