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February 25, 2016 9:55 AM, EST
After Strong Year, Volvo Looks to Boost Market Share
Nyberg, Koeck by Jonathan S. Reiskin/Transport Topics
WASHINGTON — Volvo Trucks North America had its best year for deliveries and market share in 2015, and although industrywide sales are expected to decline this year, the company’s president said he wants to increase market share by boosting sales to flatbed, tank truck and heavyhaul carriers. 

At a Feb. 24 press event here, Göran Nyberg said this strategy could start to bear fruit in the second half of this year.

Nyberg and vice president of marketing Magnus Koeck said new and recently developed products should aid the original equipment manufacturer’s sales efforts. The 6x2 power configuration with a lift axle has sold well, Nyberg said, and more truck buyers are spec’ing the OEM’s in-house engines and transmissions.

Looking at environmental regulations, Nyberg said regulators and truck makers are working together better so as to avoid the boom-bust cycle of 2006-2007, when fleets rushed purchases early and shunned them later after regulations tightened.

“Ten years ago, in 2006, we were forced into new standards without preparations,” Nyberg said of the regulatory changes that brought diesel particulate filters and more exhaust-gas recirculation to vehicles in 2007.

“Today we need to do this together [with regulators]. We need time to do it right and bring about greater efficiency. We have matured together with the authorities,” he told editors and reporters in offices adjacent to the Swedish Embassy.

Volvo Group changed its internal organization in January, switching to a focus on brand names from geography. That means Nyberg reports to Volvo Trucks chief Claes Nilsson in Sweden rather than Dennis Slagle in Greensboro, North Carolina. Slagle had been in charge of Volvo and sister company Mack Trucks for North America, but now he’s responsible for Mack only.

“We are laser-focused on each brand now,” Nyberg said.

Over the past 10 years, a lot of joint Mack-Volvo dealerships have sprouted. Koeck said dealer companies can keep both brands, but they should be run out of separate buildings.

“We’re actively supporting dedicated, separate brands, but a common service department would be all right,” Nyberg said.

Despite the focus on brands, Nyberg said Volvo will not be making a one-world truck. The vehicles will be tailored to five major regions: North America, South America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa-Middle East.

“I’ve been involved in many markets,” Nyberg said. “We sell mainly cabovers in Europe. North America is unique with the tonnage hauled, the distances involved and the size of our fleet customers. There are regional plans for each of the five regions.”

Koeck said that even within North America, Mexico is a substantial market that is different from the United States and Canada. Cabovers are more popular there, he said.

Last year, Koeck said, Volvo shipped 38,849 trucks out of its Dublin, Virginia, factory — the largest facility in the Volvo Trucks global network.

U.S. market share was 12.4%, 16.3% in Canada and 4.9% in Mexico. For the whole continent the share was 12.2% — all of the figures records except for Mexico, Koeck said.

U.S. truck sales by Volvo were 30,930 vehicles, which even topped the industry’s record year of 2006, when Volvo sold 30,716 heavy trucks.

“We are pleased but not happy,” Nyberg said.