Volvo Trucks North America President Marc Gustafson said the company plans to introduce a telematics program in the third quarter, which will ultimately allow users to pay nothing for the truck unless it is moving. The program is expected to incorporate some of the technology used in the company's Dynafleet system, which has been offered on European models for some time.
Gustafson said the company is banking heavily on its MVP program, designed to simplify and speed the spec'ing and delivery of trucks. "Our goal is to take no more than 21 days from the time the truck is ordered to the time it is delivered," he said. "We have spent the past five years developing the back end to support this."
Gustafson said the company has focused a lot of its efforts on reducing complexity in its supply chain. "We have reduced the number of suppliers from 1,400 to 350 over the last three years," he said. "There has traditionally been a lot of maverick purchasing out there where you're buying on impulse."
That, he said, was why there were so many new Internet ventures in the industry. "A lot of the people entering the dot-com world are attacking the weak parts of the supply chain," he said.
While he was tight-lipped about any corporate moves, Gustafson did say Volvo was moving aggressively to purchase another manufacturer after its failed attempt to take over Scania.
He said despite the drop in order intake earlier this year and layoffs at its Virginia plant, the company was still on track to build 30,000 Class 8 trucks this year. "Our overall order cancellation rate in 1999 was only 5%. We were proactive in limiting production because we were looking at more things than just order intake," he said.
"We saw dealer inventories rising too fast in the fourth quarter and we decided to take quick action to protect our dealers. We have reduced dealer inventories by 35% since January."