Expansion for Volvo

The Swedish truck maker, Volvo, have unveiled a $30 million development project in Brisbane. Volvo’s newly appointed Global President and CEO, Martin Lundstedt, was on hand to participate in a breaking ground ceremony on the new site, this week.


Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Global President and CEO
Martin Lundstedt, Volvo Global President and CEO


The new development is situated beside the Ipswich Motorway, to the west of Brisbane, and close to the Volvo/Mack assembly facility at Wacol. The site will house a new National Headquarters and Brisbane Dealership, as well as consolidating much of the Volvo organisation into one central location.


Currently, Volvo employees are spread out across seven separate locations in the Brisbane area. This new facility will bring this number down, with most of the employees based at either the assembly facility or the new HQ/Dealership. It will occupy a highly visible site overlooking the Ipswich Motorway, the first to be released as part of the Metroplex Westgate Business Park.


“Volvo has been building trucks in Brisbane for more than 40 years and has a very bright future here,” said Lundstedt. “Wacol is the largest truck assembly plant in Australia and its dedicated workforce has enabled Volvo Group Australia to become the largest truck builder in the country.


“I appreciate that manufacturing in Australia has been in decline for a number of years, as it has in many other countries, but the outlook for our business is strong. We’ve invested more than $27 million in Volvo Group assembly plant in recent years. That’s a sign of our great confidence in the Australian business.”


The turning of the first sod on the site took place this week. Lundstedt was joined by Par Ahlberger, Sweden’s Ambassador to Australia, Noelene Watson, ATA Chair, Peter McGregor, GPT Metroplex, Mark Goodwill, AIG, and Joachim Rosenberg, Executive Chairman, UD Trucks.


“Australia is the toughest trucking environment in the world and it makes sense for us to build locally the specific trucks that the market demands,” said Peter Voorhoeve, Volvo Group Australia President. “In Australia trucks carry heavier loads for longer distances and in higher temperatures than anywhere else in the world.


“Our team has obviously developed a great understanding of what the Australian transport industry needs and the investment being made here demonstrates how positive we are about the future. We are really proud to partner with GPT Metroplex, who will take the investment on this site, which we will lease from them for at least the next ten years.”


International Hype

Stolen trucks on the streets of Las Vegas, followed by TV News helicopters. Of course, it has to be a truck launch. This one is for the new International HX range for the US market which Diesel News reported a couple of weeks ago. This is part of the new trend to the spectacular which is happening within the truck manufacturing industry, it’s not just a launch event, it has to look good on YouTube. Read more

Irish Trucking

Diesel News is not quite sure what is going on here, but it looks like truckies in Ireland are having a great time. This video is made by someone called Marty Mone and the words to the song seem to be about the trucking life in the Emerald Isle. One thing is clear, the Irish love the Swedish trucks, which seem to feature throughout. Experience of trucking in Ireland, leads us to think the cowboy culture is strong and mass/fatigue laws are regarded as advisory, rather than compulsory.


One question. Surely, a big bonneted T Series Scania  pulling a 43 foot fridge is going to be well over the Euro length limit of 16.5 metres?


Another song by Mr Mone accompanied by a slide show of impressive Irish trucks

Volvo Shuffle the Deck

The global Volvo organisation is set to reorganise its business structure by the end of next month. The Volvo Group has announced it is introducing a brand-based organisation, which it says will give the global truck manufacturing giant clearer commercial accountability for the various truck brands.


The four separate units, Volvo Trucks, UD Trucks, Renault Trucks and Mack Trucks will each have profit and loss responsibility for their respective businesses. The make up of the group’s board will also be changed to include representatives from selected business areas.




“This is an important change in how we conduct our truck business, with an expanded mandate for our sales organisations to control and develop their businesses with an explicit responsibility for profitability and organic growth,” said Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO of Volvo. “We will gain a simpler organisation in which decisions are made more quickly and in closer cooperation with the customer, while each truck brand will be represented on the Group Executive Board with shared responsibility for optimising Volvo Group’s overall truck business.”


These latest structural changes follow the process of major restructuring and cost savings undertaken by Volvo a couple of years ago under Lundstedt’s predecessor, Olof Persson, who resigned at short notice last year. According to a statement from the global HQ, Volvo is now entering a new phase with more intense customer focus and focus on organic growth and improved profitability.


“The efforts in recent years to realise synergies between our various brands have yielded results and created the possibility to now make the Volvo Group the most desired transport solution provider in the world,” said Lundstedt. “The goal of the new governance model is for all of the Group’s business areas to be driven along the same distinct business principles, whereby each area can follow and optimise its own earnings performance in both the short and long term.”


This latest move can be seen as Lundstedt stamping his authority and style of management onto the Volvo Group. Until joining the Volvo Group he had spent most of his working career at Scania, Volvo’s bitter rival in Sweden, and may be bringing some of the Scania management philosophy across with him.


Volvo’s technology and product development organisation and production organisation for trucks will remain responsible for common development and production across the brands. Purchasing for the truck operation will form a separate unit and is set to join the board. The new organisation will come into effect on March 1.


Four Year Old Tries to Wreck Truck

Here is the latest of what is now becoming a long list of YouTube videos, in which Volvo try and take branding videos beyond the normal advertising genre and create something interesting and arresting to watch. They succeeded with the Jean Claude Van Damme ‘Epic Split’ and only time and   a page view count will tell us how well they have done this time.


The conceit is a good one, an unpredictable child and a remote-controlled 18-tonne truck. The four-year-old Sophie sends the Volvo FMX around a course designed to be difficult for her. The truck gets into trouble, but the features and toughness of the FMX model is demonstrated by the way it just keeps going, no matter what she does.


These are the features said to be demonstrated in the video

  • Automatic Traction Control, automatic all-wheel drive, activated when needed. The result is better traction, less wear and tear and lower fuel consumption.
  • Sturdy Front Corner, bumpers made of 3 millimetre thick high grade steel as an extension of the chassis.
  • Skid Plate protects the truck from loose objects, e.g. when driving on gravel or stony areas. The 3 millimetre thick steel Skid Plate is built to withstand at least 5 tonnes of pressure.
  • Volvo FMX has a ground clearance of 30 cm, meaning that vital parts such as the suspension and brake discs aren’t at risk of damage when running on rough ground.


Australasians are winners

It would seem the trucking industry in Australia and New Zealand is something special, as both countries have picked up winners’ gongs in recent Asia-wide competitions. The technicians from Prestons in NSW have won their Scania Top Team Asia final, once again, and a female truckie has outclassed the boys to win the Asian final of the global Volvo Fuelwatch Challenge.



Known as the ‘Wizards of Aus’, the Top Team entrants from the Scania dealership in Prestons NSW won their third successive Regional Final in China last weekend. They competed in a workshop skills competition against teams from all across Asia.


Wizards of Oz in China



The Aussie team team will now defend its 2011 and 2013 back-to-back victories in the Top Team World Final. The bi-annual workshop battle attracts teams from 1600 workshops across the global Scania organisation. TheWorld Final will be held in Sweden at the end of this year.



The 2015 team, Frank Muscat, Logan Hoser, Chris Nobbs, Benn Jeffery and Phil Sage, are coached by Scania’s National Technical Support Manager Jason Grech and his National Technical Support colleague, Steve Watson.



The 2015 Asian Regional Final took place in Guangzhou, China, in hot and humid 35oC conditions. The winning team completed 10 challenges and at the end, the runners up, China, were 24 points adrift, finishing ahead of the United Arab Emirates team.



“We maintained a solid scoring rate throughout the challenges, and that gave us the momentum we needed to secure the outright win, which is very gratifying,” said Jason Grech after the event. “The competition kicked off at 7.30am and ran through to 5.00pm and covered 5 primary stations and 5 support stations, where a variety of tasks tested our guys across a series of technology and fault diagnosis issues.”


Louise Marriott from New Zealand, Winner of the Volvo Trucks Fuelwatch Asia Pacific Challenge 2015, On-road category



Also running over last weekend was the Volvo Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015 in the Thai city of Hua Hin. A Kiwi truckie, Louise Marriott, was declared the most fuel-efficient driver in the on road category. She became the first female driver in the competition’s history to achieve a podium finish at the event.



During the event, participants attended a one day training session on fuel efficient driving techniques and technical expertise, followed by the Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge grand finals on the second day.



17 drivers from around the Asia Pacific region qualified for the on road and off road categories at the Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015. The competition included four women, reflecting the expanding number of female drivers in the truck driving community in the region.



I’m absolutely pleased to be this year’s most fuel efficient driver and to be the first contestant to bring the trophy home to New Zealand,” said Louise Marriott. “While our industry is often thought of as being male dominated, the Fuelwatch Challenge has been a great platform for us to show that all drivers, regardless of gender, can perform at the highest level while being fuel-efficient. I look forward to sharing the experience at Fuelwatch with my colleagues back home.”



In winning the Fuelwatch Challenge, Louise recorded 17.5 per cent less fuel consumed, when compared to the highest amount of fuel burnt on the day.



“I am delighted and proud to witness history made at this year’s Asia Pacific Fuelwatch Challenge 2015, with the first female driver joining the ranks of past Fuelwatch winners,” said Christophe Martin, President of Volvo Trucks in Asia Oceania. “Louise’s achievements will no doubt encourage aspiring female drivers, which will benefit the industry as a whole.



“We at Volvo Trucks are firmly committed to the Fuelwatch mission of optimising performance at minimum cost to businesses, society and the environment. Since our inaugural event in 2007, the more than 15,000 participants of the Fuelwatch Challenge have become ambassadors of the Fuelwatch community, sharing the skills and technical knowledge that they have picked up at the event to catalyse our goal of a fuel-efficient industry.”

Lifting the Drive

This looks like a great idea. Lifting one of the drive axles is going to save fuel and tyre wear, no trucking operator is going to say no to that one. However, there may be an issue translating this idea to Australian trucks. Our low front axle mass limits mean our turntables are set back further than they are on a typical European prime mover. A solution which comes to mind is the sliding turntable, moving the weight of the trailer directly over the drive axle still on the ground.


If the turntable remained in its normal position and the rear drive was lifted, it could lead to a situation like this one, experienced by a Scania driver:

Let’s have some real reality

Globally, Volvo have been  spending a lot of time and effort in the video space in the past few years. There were, of course, the series of stunt YouTube videos, culminating with Jean Claude Van Damme and his epic split. There is also a reality TV series, Reality Road, now available online at YouTube (see below). The question is, from the point of view of the humble punter, what relevance does this video have to me and what has it got to do with trucks and trucking? It’s just entertainment.


The Volvo team in Australia have come up something we can relate to, does have some genuine quality, tells a story worth telling (and the Volvo brand gets a mention!). This first video features Danny Matic, he tells his story eloquently and simply.


This is joined by another, heart wrenching, story from Gavin Blue, who spends most of his working life photographing trucks:


The third story is of about Max Winkless, a name synonymous with Volvo in Australia. He tells it well:


Of course if you do want to binge watch a reality TV show then here it is in all its glory:










Cat’s latest stunt

Here is another of what is becoming a growing trend, truck manufacturers making stunt videos with their trucks and posting them up on YouTube. The videos rarely have any real relevance to the act of trying to sell the truck to the customer. They are often about engaging the viewer, upping awareness of the brand and, perhaps highlighting one of the features of the truck. Of course, this is followed by the obligatory behind the scenes video: Read more

How to save fuel

The subject of fuel consumption in a truck should always be front of mind. In this video Diesel’s European Correspondent, Brian Weatherley, learns some lessons from a driving trainer around a course in the UK. The annual Volvo Fuel Challenge happened just the other day, a national competition where drivers duke it out over a fixed 11.6 km route, over two legs, to see who is the most fuel efficient.

Read more