Juggling three divergent truck brands and getting them through the pandemic was the task last year and this year has not been easy for an organisation driving Volvo Group into the future. Tim Giles speaks to the leadership team about the challenges and forward plans.
The Volvo Group Australia world includes three very divergent brands. There’s the cool Scandinavian philosophy demonstrated in Volvo Trucks, the somewhat hotter enthusiasm and tradition behind the Mack Trucks brand and then the practical and pragmatic Japanese philosophy from UD Trucks.
The project over the past twenty years has been to bring all of these disparate items in under one roof to produce a coherent offering to the Australian truck market. It has been difficult at times and the tensions were clear in the early stages of the process, as the different world views clashed heads.
Out of this period has emerged a Volvo Group which does have a singular take on the way to build and support trucks, but one which has been accepted by buyers of all three brands. The cultural hurdles have been jumped and it is possible for the three differing ways of building a truck to exist in the same organisation. Compromises have been made on all sides.
At the end of this journey the VGA retains a strong presence in the big four of the global truck manufacturing scene alongside Daimler, Paccar and, more latterly, Volkswagen, under the Traton banner.
This global philosophy has been replicated here in Australia with the organisation headquartered at it relatively new HQ in Wacol, QLD, just around the corner from the factory where the Volvos and Macks for the Australia truck market are made.
“2020, what a year,” says Martin Merrick, Volvo Group Australia President. “Like any manufacturing business we faced a few hurdles over the past twelve months. Our supply chains have been challenged at times, production stopped for three weeks and even our headquarters building was closed for some time.”
“We have entered 2021 in a very strong position and will continue to invest in what really matters to support our people, our customers, local manufacturing, the Australian transport industry and society at large.
“We are on a journey towards zero emissions transport solutions by 2040, and our journey has started in Australia. That said, the internal combustion engine will be with us here in Australia for a very long time to come.”
2021 is going to be a busy year for all three brands. For Mack the introduction of the Anthem is a major step forward and integrating that technology across all of the models is going keep the brand at the forefront of the North American truck market.
As part of driving Volvo Group into the future, Volvo trucks themselves are going through a major refresh of all its trucks and release the new-shape FM as well as making the next technology step forward throughout the range. There are also electric Volvo models on trial here.
For UD this period is one of consolidating the changes of the last few years, with the new Quon bedding in and the Croner beginning to make its way in the Australian trucking landscape. The brand is also starting to fill gaps in it offering, and this year’s addition is the 8×4 Quon, long promised and finally here.