New ⁦⁦Volvo Trucks North America⁩ chief Peter Voorhoeve explaining the truck market in his...

New ⁦⁦Volvo Trucks North America⁩ chief Peter Voorhoeve explaining the truck market in his former post of Australia with a visual aid— a photo of a road train made up of a Volvo cabover tractor pulling four trailers.

Photo: David Cullen

“What an easy job I have to present this to you today,” Peter Voorhoeve, who just weeks ago took over the reins at Volvo Truck North America, said during an Oct. 29 media briefing on the OEM's market position at the American Trucking Associations’ annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

“Our new products have been received extremely well,” said the new president and CEO of VTNA, referring to the roll out last year of the Volvo VNL highway and VNR regional truck models, as well as higher uptake rates for all-Volvo powertrains (92.4%) and for the I-Shift automated transmission (88.1%).

Voorhoeve said Volvo has picked up “60,000 orders so far for these new trucks, since sales started” a year ago. “We’re regaining market share [with these products],” he added, noting that the OEM has “very good momentum in the long haul [segment] and in Canada.”

Indeed, he was able to report that the OEM’s Class 8 market share in the U.S. has risen almost two percentage points in less than a year – from 8.6% for 2017 to 10.5% so far in 2018.

Sales of Volvo trucks this year have been even hotter, percentage-wise, in Canada, where market share currently stands at 12.9% compared to 10.2% for all of 2017. Voorhoeve regarded this performance as remarkable. He explained that in a mature market like Canada’s, "if you do your best, you can maybe gain 1%, 1.5%, or 2% in a year's time. But if all of a sudden you go almost 4% up, that’s a truly massive performance and very good to see."  

On the other hand, things are cooler south of the border. He said Volvo’s share in Mexico has slipped slightly, from 2.3% in 2017 to 2.0% thus far this year.

As to the overall North American market, Voorhoeve contended that if manufacturing constraints could be stripped away and OEMs could build every truck on order within the calendar year, the NAFTA market could surpass 500,000 units. He noted that from 2017 to 2019, Volvo alone has recorded 215% more orders.

Realistically, he forecast that North American Class 8 orders will come in at 300,000 units this year (including 244,000 U.S. units, 31,500 in Canada, and 24,500 in Mexico) and will rise to 310,000 units next year.  

"All the truck manufacturers in North America cannot, mostly for the moment, build more than we are doing now,” said Voorhoeve. “So, that's a limiting factor. But if you look at the order boards, we could exceed 500,000. I don't think that's going to happen. But it shows the market is very strong. The underlying economic performance in this country is also very strong. It's exciting times."

And that's compelling VTNA to increase capacity.  "We have been investing heavily in our production setup in New River Valley, and the plans for this year, next year, and the year after are massive," said Voorhoeve.

Asked by HDT if changing market dynamics might lead Volvo to consider offering medium-duty trucks in the U.S. again (as it had in the 1970s and ‘80s), Voorhoeve replied that, “We will be keeping our focus on the heavy-duty market.”

The Netherlands-born executive, who most recently served as chief of Volvo Group Australia, also reviewed Volvo Truck’s standing in other key global markets. He said Volvo is among the top three truck makers in Europe, where it holds a 16% market share. He noted that the company has increased share in several market around the world, including Russia, Brazil, and South Africa.

From looking ahead, Voorhoeve looked back to make a point. Noting that Volvo Trucks fully opened up shop here in 1981, he said it has since grown to the point that “with our products and with substantial investments in our dealer network, we can truly say we're on par with everybody else in this industry. Volvo Trucks is a North American truck builder with a Swedish heritage and performance that exceeds many others."

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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