Trends like autonomous trucking and electric-mobility continue to impact the commercial vehicle industry—but keeping customers happy is just as important
Latest trends in the global and regional sector
Put cleanly by Kivanc Arman, regional director for Automotive Aftermarket, Turkey, Iran, and Middle East at Bosch, the trucking sector is currently witnessing some interesting developments.
“Electric vehicles are being developed at a faster pace than expected, as their motors have fewer moving parts, require less maintenance, and generally have a longer lifespan,” elaborates Arman. “Autonomous transportation technologies are also set to make a mark in this sector. Although self-driving vehicles have their benefits, the downside is likely to be a loss of trucking jobs.”
He also adds that in terms of the workforce, driver shortages will make many trucking companies not only explore automation to a greater degree, but also look to millennials to fill the gap and various ways of incentivising them.
“At Bosch, we are continuously striving to innovate, with research and development built into our DNA. In 2015, we raised R&D expenditure to EUR6.4BN, and for the past five years, we have spent no less than 8.1% of our revenues on R&D. We even have a dedicated research and advance engineering campus in Renningen, Germany. It hosts over 1,500 creative minds, working on accelerating innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration, mainly for microelectronics and software.”
Electrification is burgeoning and to that end, the Nikola Motor Company and Bosch have developed the world’s first powertrain for the electric long-haul truck. Touted as the ‘commercial vehicle powertrain of the future,’ the development partnership will bring to the market the Nikola One and Two, a class 8 hydrogen-electric truck lineup that will deliver more than 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 ft. lbs. of torque.
This advancement is achieved by the eaxle developed by Bosch. A scalable, modular platform with the motor, power electronics and
“Autonomous driving will still take some time, but when it comes to electric vehicles, it is a more practical reality in the next five years.” Jan-erik Thoren, Volvo Trucks
transmission in one compact unit, the eaxle is suitable for vehicles of all kinds, from small passenger cars to light trucks. The technology vision of Nikola and integration expertise from Bosch will enable the Nikola trucks to realise unprecedented targets for e-machine efficiency.
As part of the government’s efforts, Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) recently mandated that all trucks imported starting this year must meet Euro 4 emission standards. Al-futtaim Auto & Machinery Company (FAMCO) and Volvo Trucks Middle East have taken a step further and introduced the Euro 5-compliant trucks. The new Volvo Trucks are equipped with on-board diagnostics (OBD), which helps monitor the level of Adblue liquid that together with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology helps lower emission levels. The OBD also easily provides authorities with information regarding the emission levels of the trucks during inspection.
Jan-erik Thoren, managing director of Volvo Trucks Middle East, says: “Emission level in the Middle East is moving towards Euro 4 by 2021, and the UAE has already moved to Euro 4. Load legislations are being enforced in most of the countries in this region. The focus ultimately remains on safety and environmental care.”
Vladimir Knezevic, managing director of FAMCO UAE, said: “As the whole industry is shifting its focus to decreased fuel consumption and increased fleet efficiency, Volvo Trucks, with its advanced safety features and Euro 5 emission standards, is in a class of its own. The new trucks in addition to supporting the
government’s efforts to lower pollution levels also ensure our customers drive environmentfriendly trucks that are more fuel-efficient and provides greater productivity and returns.”
FAMCO also recently unveiled Volvo Trucks’ special safety edition truck, which contains numerous world’s first innovations to assist in safe driving, fast loading, and fatigue reduction.
Knezevic remarks: “As part of the safety features we’re talking about, it’s also about the total cost of ownership (TCO), which is extremely important in the overall customer business. So, we’re strongly focusing on the awareness of the safety features, but we also emphasise on looking after our customer.”
Thoren supports the above, adding that it is absolutely vital to bring the awareness (of safety) to the customers, as well as the relevant authorities. He also believes that there are plenty of discussions about electro-mobility and autonomous trucks, but the trucks they have today will continue to play an important role over the next five to 10 years.
“But there will be a lot of innovations, and new solutions on the road. Autonomous driving will still take some time, but when it comes to electric vehicles, it is a more practical reality in the next five years.”
A 2016 study by Deloitte predicts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of only 0.6% for the global heavy and medium commercial vehicle markets until 2026. Could improved customer service and after-sales involvement boost these numbers?
Franz Freiherr von Redwitz, managing director MAN Truck & Bus Middle East, comments: “Customers are more and more empowered and are looking for integrated solutions, end-to end and not just the product itself. An integrated offering is the key for future service contracts; with every vehicle, we provide piece of mind, so our customers can ‘focus on running their businesses.”
A ‘Customerfirst’ programme was developed by MAN Truck & Bus to systematically record data on customer satisfaction and improve service quality. At its heart, the initiative uses customer feedback to monitor the performance of MAN and its distributors on a regular basis, and effectively the scheme ensures that they are constantly delivering on their promises to customers over the days, months, and years following the initial purchase of a vehicle. If MAN or its dealers are falling short, then the solution can be found early and quickly.
Marc Legeay, general manager, Mercedesbenz Trucks MENA, explains how the all-new Mercedes-benz Actros and Arocs are packed with the very latest technology; boasting the best in the company’s engineering expertise to specifically keep TCO as low as possible.
“Fleet owners here are focusing more and more on the TCO, seeking for the highest profitability of the overall vehicle lifecycle. Over the last years, we have witnessed an increase of diesel prices in many Middle East markets, which means fuel efficiency becomes increasingly important,” he says. “With the new Actros and Arocs, we are providing a highly attractive product and service offer for Tcooriented fleet customers. Further, significantly reduced fuel consumption, tailor-made service,