With Volvo topping the heavy duty truck sales figures for the past two months, Volvo may have overtaken Kenworth on truck sales? In the figures published by the Truck Industry Council for June 2019, Volvo sold 225 heavy duty trucks, while Kenworth achieved 202. This leaves Volvo just 50 trucks behind Kenworth’s 1154 total sales for the year in this market segment.
At this point last year the two topped the rankings but Kenworth had achieved 1333 total sales for the first six months of 2018, while Volvo had just tipped over the thousand, at 1009. Volvo has been running a close second for some time but never got quite as close as it has in the last couple of months.
There could be a number of factors at play in these figures. Volvo may be delivering a number of bulk fleet sales together at one time with the effect of causing a blip in sales, while, at the same time, Kenworth are in the process of changing over to the new T410 and T360 models, with an inherent dip in production as the changeover is made.
If this is the case, the overall number may well show Kenworth comfortably back at number one by year’s end. However the rise of Volvo, Scania, Mercedes Benz and MAN in the last couple of years does show a longer term structural change is happening, with the market moving towards a preference for European cabover prime movers.
The reasons for this structural change in the truck market may be many and varied, but could well reflect an increasing focus on safety systems and driver monitoring. There has also been a much improved fuel consumption drive throughout the European brands, offering lower fuel use across the board with every new development in engine and driveline technology. Operators are targeting minimising fuel burn.
This development in the market has been reflected in the changes coming though from the traditional US truck and engine developers. New integrated driveline packages are now available from Cummins and Eaton in both Kenworth and International. Mack are selling an integrated own brand driveline and Daimler have a similar package waiting in the wings from Freightliner.
In terms of safety systems and driver oriented design. The new Kenworths, the T610, T410 and T360 have demonstrated a major move to integrated safety systems and comfort coming to the fore. The advent of the Mack Anthem and the Freightliner Cascadia will see this trend continue across the the North American brands.
It would be a big mistake ever to write off the Kenworth brand or the Paccar organisation. The market dominance this truck group has known for many years is based on a solid foundation and many years of trust built over time through both the manufacturer’s hard work and the dealer network’s ability to relate to its customers.