Just keep on truckin’


VOLVO Trucks has backed its Aus­tralian fac­tory de­spite a chal­leng­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ment that is forc­ing lo­cal car­mak­ers to re­assess their long-term plans.

The brand is cel­e­brat­ing 40 years of its Aus­tralian man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in the Bris­bane sub­urb of Wa­col, which has also been build­ing Mack trucks since 2002.

Volvo is one of the few truck brands be­ing pro­duced in Australia — two oth­ers are Ken­worth and Iveco.

Volvo Group Australia CEO Arne Kn­aben says truck com­pa­nies with Aus­tralian fac­to­ries are far­ing bet­ter than im­porters.

‘‘There are 17 (truck) brands in Australia, four of them make trucks here and yet they make up 50 per cent of the mar­ket,’’ he says. ‘‘I think it is a ma­jor as­set to pro­duce lo­cally.’’

Volvo Trucks Australia gen­eral man­ager Gary Bone is not about to un­der­es­ti­mate how im­por­tant it is to make the prod­uct in Australia.

‘‘Lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing is cru­cial to our suc­cess in Australia,’’ he says.

Just like lo­cal car­mak­ers, truck­mak­ers in Australia have to com­pete with im­porters, who mostly ben­e­fit from the Aus­tralian dol­lar.

This means some ri­vals, es­pe­cially from Amer­i­can brands, are able to sharpen their prices.

‘‘Com­peti­tors are us­ing their sig-

I think it is a ma­jor as­set to pro­duce lo­cally

nif­i­cant ad­van­tages of cur­rency to get where they need to be,’’ Bone con­tin­ued.

That leads to the ques­tion of whether it is still pos­si­ble to make money build­ing trucks lo­cally.

‘‘Yes, it is prof­itable to build right here in Australia,’’ Bone says.

‘‘Right now it is not as easy as we would like it to be. I guess you would call it mar­ginal, but we need to have what we have to stay suc­cess­ful here in Australia.’’

While the fi­nan­cial re­sults of the Aus­tralian Volvo/mack plant vary de­pend­ing on the eco­nomic cli­mate, there is sup­port for the op­er­a­tion from head of­fice.

‘‘Our stake­hold­ers at Volvo glob­ally are very sup­port­ive of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing, not only here but in Brazil, Rus­sia and South Africa,’’ Bone says. ‘‘They see it as crit­i­cal to our suc­cess here.’’

Bone says ben­e­fits of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing in­clude the abil­ity to bet­ter tune trucks to lo­cal needs such as fit­ting larger Adblue con­tain­ers and fuel tanks that would not be made avail­able on a Euro­pean truck.

Volvo is one of the few truck brands be­ing pro­duced in Australia

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