ATLANTA-- Alluding to Volvo’s rollout of not one but two new trucks in the past few month, Volvo Trucks North America President Göran Nyberg kicked off the company’s presser here at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show on Sept. 25 by declaring “it’s a great year to introduce a new truck.”
Nyberg said that’s because market conditions remain strong, with the OEM forecasting a NAFTA Class 8 market of 225,000 units for this year. He added that he “would not be surprised” if that figure ended up higher. Nyberg also said he's currently predicting that “next year, [truck] sales will be stronger” than in 2017.
“The highway business has come back in a strong way,” he said, xplaining what is driving the Class 8 market. “And manufacturing is coming back and construction spending is up, too.”
He said a strong labor market coupled with a rise in consumer spending is driving GDP growth. Nyberg added that the “rebounding manufacturing sector” is expected to see moderate growth next year while construction spending—already at “an all-time high”-- will continue to gradually increase. On top of that, he pointed out that diesel prices ae low and forecast to rise only slightly in 2018.
Nyberg said market growth was being supported by Volvo and its dealers. He said the OEM now has a dealership count of “420 and growing” and said dealers have together invested $600 million since 2010 to grow their parts and service capabilities.
He said these investments have to date yielded 65 added locations as well as a 51% increase in bay capacity; 80% in service capacity; 116% in technicians; and a whopping 312% in master techs. He added that there are “another 13 dealer locations in the pipeline.”
Magnus Koeck, vice president of marketing and brand management, highlighted the OEM’s introductions earlier this year of its new regional tractor, the Volvo VNR, and its new flagship linehauler, the Volvo VNL.
Both trucks boast an array of new technological features and the VNL stands out as the company’s first all-new highway tractor in 20 years. Indeed, a Volvo executive told HDT that the rollouts of those two trucks amounted to the “introduction of the next 10 years” of heavy-duty truck design.
Koeck noted that the VNL was “designed with the driver in mind,” with that effort including conducting interviews with 2,000 drivers to help inform the layout and features of the new truck.
“The future is coming faster than any of us are expecting it,” said Nyberg, who advised that he see electric power “coming first to light and medium trucks. “For sure,” he added, “we are looking at all options [for powering trucks]. But for the foreseeable future, heavy trucks will continue to be based on the proven diesel.”
At the NACV show, Volvo also announced that the interiors of its Volvo VHD 300 daycab and VHD 400 regional sleeper models now feature numerous driver safety and comfort features, including LED lighting, new seating choices, and optimized ergonomic.
The interiors include an all-new dashboard that puts often-used controls within the driver’s reach. Centered in the gauge cluster is a configurable, five-inch color driver information display that provides trip and diagnostic data. The driver information display is customizable, so that critical information is available at a glance. A dash-top tray features 12-volt power and USB connectivity to keep devices fully powered.
VHD models will now also be equipped with the OEM’s smart steering wheel, which places the controls for nearly all of the driver interface functions at a driver’s fingertips. The smart steering wheel is attached to Volvo’s Perfect Position air-assisted, fully adjustable steering column, which enables drivers not only to tilt and telescope the steering column, but also tilt the steering wheel relative to the steering column.