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