Volvo break­through

Hav­ing Swedes in the en­gine room will help UD Nis­san Diesel, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Cars 2004- 2008 Kia Cerato -

ON THE quiet, UD gen­eral man­ager John Bushell was over the moon when Volvo bought a ma­jor­ity stake in UD Nis­san Diesel.

He had to show re­straint as he knew the takeover meant pain for a num­ber of his staff, but he also knew this was the break­through that would let UD achieve its full po­ten­tial in the lo­cal mar­ket.

‘‘When we heard Volvo had bought con­trol of UD we thought it was great,’’ Bushell says. ‘‘For the first time in 30 years we wouldn’t be p---ing into the fan!

‘‘We were marginalised un­der the old ar­range­ment, but this is go­ing to be a great mar­riage.’’

The changes at UD are aimed at mak­ing the com­pany a more cost­ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tion through ac­cess to Volvo Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cles Aus­tralia (VCVA) back­room ser­vices, such as fi­nance, ad­min­is­tra­tion and parts.

The most vis­i­ble ef­fect will be a mas­sive ex­pan­sion of the dealer net­work.

Cur­rent dealer agree­ments are not be­ing re­newed as they ex­pire; in­stead new agree­ments are be­ing ne­go­ti­ated, most of which will be with Volvo and Mack dealers.

By the end of next year, when the roll­out of the new dealer net­work is ex­pected to be com­pleted, UD’s dealer net­work will be three times the size it is now.

The net­work will give UD a much-needed boost in vis­i­bil­ity.

‘‘I feel quite strongly that the way we have been brought into the group has been a much bet­ter ride than any­one could have ex­pected,’’ Bushell says.

UD is ben­e­fit­ing from the lessons learned when Volvo took over Mack, he says, which is mak­ing this merger much smoother than the Mack one.

Bushell say there is no con­flict be­tween the three brands.

Volvo is a pre­mium

on- high­way heavy-duty truck brand; Mack has a strong rep­u­ta­tion for its vo­ca­tional trucks, while UD has a rep­u­ta­tion for reli­a­bil­ity in the lo­cal and re­gional dis­tri­bu­tion in­dus­try with its medium and heavy-duty trucks.

‘‘That’s the bread and but­ter of the Ja­panese brands and that’s where we can shine,’’ Bushell says.

‘‘We should have 25 per cent of the mar­ket for Ja­panese trucks in Aus­tralia.’’

Head of­fice sup­port from UD in Ja­pan is im­por­tant to achiev­ing that goal and this has not al­ways been as strong as Bushell would have liked.

He says the com­pany is chang­ing its fo­cus to­wards ex­ports and he ex­pects to have greater prod­uct sup­port.

‘‘We do well with clients who want a 10-pal­let truck with an Ea­ton gear­box in it, for in­stance, but in other seg­ments we don’t have trucks and that brings our mar­ket share down,’’ he says.

Bushell is con­fi­dent he will get the trucks he has been want­ing now greater em­pha­sis is be­ing placed on in­creas­ing the com­pany’s sales out­side of Ja­pan.

‘‘I’ve never seen the morale of the peo­ple in the ex­port depart­ment higher than I have since the Volvo takeover and the ap­point­ment of Claes Sved­berg as its man­ager,’’ Bushell says.

‘‘Volvo has given UD the di­rec­tive to lift its ex­ports and Sved­berg is driv­ing it.’’

Happy: John Bushell doesn’t see a clash with Mack and Volvo.

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