DUBLIN, VA. Magnus Koeck, vice president of marketing and brand management for Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA), said the OEM is sticking by its projection that North American Class 8 sales will total 280,000 units in 2018. However, he stressed that figure will probably be revised “significantly higher” very soon as economic activity continues to increase.
“We foresee a strong labor market and consumer spending is driving GDP [gross domestic product] growth this year,” he explained during a press event to launch its rebooted VNX heavy-haul tractor here at the OEM’s New River Valley (NVR) assembly plant.
“The rebound in manufacturing that started in 2017 will continue, with some moderate expansion into this year,” Koeck noted. “Construction is doing well overall and we’ll see a slight increase in housing [activity] this year. Diesel prices are also relatively low; they are projected to average $2.18 diesel this year. It is a good year to be in trucking and it will continue into next year – and that is exciting, as it could not be better for us as we are launching new models.”
VTNA is now launching a “revitalized” version of its VNX heavy-haul tractor to make inroads into what Koeck described as a small but “high-profile” subset of the regional commercial vehicle market.
“Within the regional haul segment we have heavy haul – roughly a 2,500 unit per year segment but still a segment we need to be in,” he explained. “It is high profile and of course we cannot stay out of it. That is why we have totally revised the VNX.”
Koeck added that VTNA’s VNR regional model, introduced last May, is receiving a “strong reception” in the market – “it is getting an extremely positive response from customers” and with the retooled VNL long-haul model introduced last summer the OEM can “now address markets we have not be into in the past. The timing could not be better – we have new products coming to the [truck] market just as a steep increase in demand occurs in the market as well”
He noted that VTNA is now just producing its new VNR and VNL models at its NVR plant as of a few weeks ago. “We are also now at 3,000 employees at the plant in order to meet very high demand,” Koeck said.