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.

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Reality from Volvo

This is a trailer for a new set of videos from Volvo. It’s the latest in, what is becoming, a long line of videos released on YouTube by the Swedish truck maker designed to pique the interest of the public and create the kind of viral video event the company achieved with the Jean Claude Van Damme video,  The Epic Split.


The concept this time is of a reality TV show following singer Mapei around Europe as she makes a music video, while being transported around by a Volvo FH with one of its star drivers, Jens. Here’s his take on the show:




Mapei talks about her experience on the road with Jens:




Did Volvo really let someone drive one of its trucks, without a driving license?



Minimising breakdowns, get connected

In any trucking fleet a truck breakdown causes the most disruption, both for the workshop, in handling an unexpected task, and for the operation, in ensuring service to the customer. A recent study into the issue by Volvo suggests up to 80 per cent of all, what it calls, ‘unplanned truck standstills’ are preventable through improved truck maintenance. Volvo says it has set a long term plan to eradicate breakdowns altogether.



“Since the transport industry already operates with very small margins, an unplanned standstill hits haulage firms hard,” said Hayder Wokil, Volvo’s Director Quality and Uptime. “We therefore have to be better at understanding why unplanned stops take place and help both customers and drivers increase their productivity and thus also their profitability.”



The company conducted a survey, based on real-life user data from 3500 Volvo trucks gathered over a five year period. Using the data gained Volvo conducted simulations and generated a variety of possible service situations to analyse how, why and when trucks suffer breakdowns.


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“The study clearly showed that by being able to monitor the truck’s usage and the current status of the vehicle’s various key components, it is possible to plan maintenance better,” said Wokil. “We reckon we can reduce the number of unplanned standstills by 80 per cent if the truck is serviced in time and in response to actual needs.”



According to Volvo, a prerequisite for reducing the number of breakdowns is to be able to predict maintenance needs and to tailor servicing for each individual truck. This is now possible since today’s trucks can be connected online to the workshop.



“For instance, a service technician can remotely monitor exactly how the truck is being used in real time, schedule maintenance well in advance before something breaks down, or order spare parts in advance,” said Wokil. “What’s more, a scheduled service can also be postponed if the workshop technician can see that the truck’s various components are subject to less wear than expected, thus saving time for both the haulage firm and the driver.”



The study found the average cost of a breakdown in Europe cost the transport company $1750. This includes direct costs such as towing and repairs, administrative fees, any fines involved, and lost transport revenue, but not costs in the form of lost cargo or lost income owing to loss of goodwill.

Save fuel and increase safety

New technology to get even more out of the current truck designs is being experimented with around the world, by simply enabling trucks to run closer to the truck in front, without compromising safety. Here is a simple-to-understand video giving us the basics of just how platooning works in trucks. This shows us the EcoTwin project from DAF with two trucks, wirelessly linked via WiFi, driving at a close distance with the driver in the second truck not needing to accelerate, brake or steer. Read more

Change at the top

Volvo’s Global President and CEO has been removed and replaced by the boss of its biggest rival. Volvo announced its previous CEO, Olof Persson, is stepping down to be replaced by Martin Lundstedt, who has resigned as President and CEO of Scania. However, the transition is expected to take some time, so an interim CEO, Jan Gurander, has been appointed by Volvo in the interim.


Martin Lundstedt, set to take over as new President and CEO of Volvo
Martin Lundstedt, set to take over as new President and CEO of Volvo

“After three years of focus on product renewal, internal efficiency and restructuring, the Volvo Group is gradually entering a new phase with an intensified focus on growth and increased profitability,” said Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman of the Board of AB Volvo, when making the announcement. “This will be achieved by further building on our leading brands, strong assets and engaged and skilled employees all over the world. Martin Lundstedt has 25 years of experience from development, production and sales within the commercial vehicle industry. He is also known for his winning leadership style.”
Olof Persson has been President and CEO the Volvo Group for almost four years. However, speculation in the Swedish press suggested Persson was to be replaced, a month ago. This was completely denied by Volvo at the time, with Svanberg quoted by Reuters as saying he was not engaged in an active search to find a replacement for Persson, who had led a drive to boost profitability over the past nearly four years.
“Olof Persson has with energy and determination carried out an extensive change of the Volvo Group,” said Svanberg, this week. “He has focused Volvo on commercial vehicles and sold unrelated businesses and assets to a value of over $3.6 billion. He introduced a functional organization and paved the way for cost savings of $1.8 billion. He also concluded the agreement with one of China’s largest truck manufacturers, Dongfeng, and led the company during the largest product renewal in the group’s history. Today the Volvo Group is considerably better positioned to compete for leadership in our industry.”
Martin Lundstedt has spent his entire career at Scania, joining in 1992 as a trainee after obtaining an MSc in Industrial Management and Technology. He had led projects in Brazil, managed engine and truck production and headed the franchise and factory sales group before stepping into the considerable shoes of Leif Ostling, who had been in the job for 20 years, as President and CEO at Scania.
“We respect Martin Lundstedt’s decision to leave the company and wish to thank him for his successful efforts to further develop and strengthen Scania’s strong market position during his years as President and CEO,” said Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Scania Board of Directors.


Per Hallberg, Acting President and CEO of Scania
Per Hallberg, Acting President and CEO of Scania

Per Hallberg, Executive Vice President, Head of Production and Logistics, has been announced as acting President and CEO, until a permanent successor to Lundstedt is found. Hallberg will keep his current management responsibilities as well.

Mid America, trucks on show

The Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky took place last week and, as usual, had plenty of bling as well as new product on display. Reports from the show floor tell us there is optimism in the air among the trucking folk who attended. It would seem the industry over there is finally getting out of its post-2007 slump.

Here’s a beauty on its way to the Show and Shine at the MATS venue. It’s a 1980 Kenworth fitted with a Caterpillar 3408 V8, looking good!

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144 tonnes on 10 axles

Getting this much mass on just ten axles is quite a feat. Regulations and safety concerns, as well as infrastructure capacity usually makes operators go for more axles to spread the mass out better. This truck is also doing it with just 540 hp from the 16 litre engine, and working in snow and ice conditions, not a bad effort at all!


Here in Australia we like a lot more axles and a lot more power. This truck and trailer set have the second engine on the third trailer and 24 axles on the ground


There seems to be a much more relaxed way of thinking for these mine trucks in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Volvo complete Chinese purchase

The Volvo Group has completed the purchase of 45 per cent of the Chinese truck manufacturer, Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles. Spending just below $1 billion, Volvo’s agreement with Dongfeng Motor Group Company sees the Swedish truck manufacturer become a 45 per cent stakeholder in the Chinese automotive company’s subsidiary, Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles (DFCV).


The DFCV handles production of heavy-duty and medium-duty commercial vehicles. The process leading up to this deal has been protracted as both sides had a number of conditions to be met. This is Volvo’s second attempt to get itself into the Chinese truck market and gain access to Chinese manufacturing capability. The previous deal fell through with a certain amount of acrimony several years ago.


“This strategic alliance is a real milestone and entails a fundamental change in the Volvo Group’s opportunities in the Chinese truck market, which is the largest in the world,” said Olof Persson, Volvo President and CEO. “At the same time, it will provide us with the opportunity to become involved in growing DFCVs international business in a manner that will benefit us and our Chinese partner.”


In 2013, the Chinese truck market was said to amount to 774,000 heavy-duty trucks, with a further 286,000 medium-duty trucks sold. Of this market DFCV claims, what it calls, a leading position with sales of 120,600 heavy-duty trucks and 51,000 medium-duty trucks, giving it market share of 15.6 and 17.8 per cent, respectively.


The structure of a joint venture company between Volvo and Dongfeng is expected to be unveiled later this month. On January 26 an inauguration ceremony has been announced to be held in Shiyan, China to mark the conclusion of the transaction. We can expect more details of the deal to become available at that point.