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July 16, 2020 4:15 PM, EDT

VTNA Remains Aggressive on Future Despite Uncertainties

Volvo VHDVolvo VHD by Volvo Trucks

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Volvo Trucks North America presented a business review, recapped two recently upgraded models and noted what it is doing at its customer center to stay connected amid social distancing and travel restrictions. The developments were part of a virtual press conference July 16.

The unexpected novel coronavirus pandemic pushed anticipated softer sales at the beginning of 2020 lower and eroded industry earnings compared with a year earlier. Yet, investments still are being made at VTNA.

“We are planning for the future. We are aggressive for the future,” said Magnus Koeck, vice president of strategy. “The market will come back, but how much and when, we don’t know — or where 2020 and 2021 is going to take us.”

Magnus Koeck

Magnus Koeck in 2018 by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

He added, “Demand in the marketplace is not where it should be. And even if we see improvements now, it’s still from a very, very low level. This hit the world at the same time. All our continents, all our companies, everything.

“Measures needed to be taken to safeguard our future. However, we are monitoring this. We are very agile, and we’ll adapt demand to the market’s needs. We can go up and we go down when needed.”

Koeck said another hold on everyday activities and commerce was possible.

“Hopefully not as severe as it was in April,” he said. “But long term, this will come back.”

He said ongoing virtual tours of its customer center at its truck plant in Dublin, Va., and its products have worked well.

“Sometimes even better. These tiny cameras can go around the engines and beneath the trucks as if you are there. Of course, we hope we can open up the physical facilities going forward.”

Meanwhile, he said the company would have two more electric VNR models in the hands of customers in Southern California in August.

RoadSigns

How can fleet managers harness technology to get a better handle on vehicle speed and improve their safety culture? Host Seth Clevenger speaks with Mathieu Boivin of E-Smart and Jonathan Hubbard of SpeedGauge. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

“So far, so good. Very positive feedback from the dealers and drivers.” Koeck said.

VTNA plans to further commercialize the truck this year.

He said the pandemic also has cut into state budgets, meaning less money in terms of incentives for electric trucks.

“In the short term, we may have an issue,” Koeck said.

In March, VTNA launched its updated VHD model but said the news was lost in the pandemic’s arrival. The company has begun taking orders, and the vehicle is expected to be available in the fourth quarter or the first quarter of 2021.

The truck’s new features were reiterated in the presentation:

  • An updated modern exterior that reflects the other models in the Volvo Trucks family, including a new grille design, as well as new LED high/low beam headlights.
  • The fully sealed headlamp component offers a brighter, more focused beam for increased visibility. An available de-icing feature burns through ice and snow that accumulate on headlamps.
  • Safety and productivity features for the vocational industry include Volvo Dynamic Steering and the next generation of Volvo Active Driver Assist. The VDS system adds torque to reduce steering strain at low speeds and remove vibrations caused by rough terrain. Also, now available in the VHD, the next-generation VADA provides features including integrated radar/camera capabilities, automatic emergency braking, highway departure warnings and adaptive cruise control.
  • A new VHD bumper features a heavy-duty 45-millimeter tow pin rated for a full 80,000 pounds, a response to customer requests.
  • A state-of-the-art interior offers improved driver comfort and productivity. For example, the truck’s ignition has been moved to the lower left-hand side of the dash, while the steering wheel buttons are more touch-friendly and clustered intuitively to help drivers feel more confident.
  • Volvo I-Shift transmission with crawler gears adds one or two gears to the 12-speed Volvo I-Shift transmission, enabling the VHD to start on steep grades, provide low-speed control and reach maximum highway speeds with faster rear-axle ratios.
  • Volvo T-Ride suspension applies constant pressure on the wheels to create sure-footed traction. The suspension also offers a new ride-stiffness option for mixers and trucks with wing plows.

Remote Programming and Remote Diagnostics, examples of the latest in connectivity solutions, allow customers to use real data insights to make the right decisions for increased safety and truck productivity.

Volvo Auto Hauler

Volvo Auto Hauler by Volvo Trucks North America

At the same time, the company recapped its recent announcement of its Volvo Auto Hauler model, a specialized solution for the auto transport industry that completes the design overhaul of the VTNA product portfolio.

It is available for order. Koeck said VTNA had a “substantial share” of this segment of the market.

The new model is designed on the same heavy-duty platform and with many of the features and durable construction found in Volvo Trucks’ vocational VHD model, according to Greensboro, N.C.-based VTNA, a brand of Volvo Group.

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