Volvo rolls out FH, FM trucks
India is fast occupying a bigger role in Volvo's global map. This is evident from the fact that the Swedish trucking giant has rolled out a new generation of its FH and FM trucks from its plant in Hoskote. “The new product range helps further reinforce our position in India, when it comes to high-performance trucking. The new Volvo FH and FM are undoubtedly the best trucks we have ever launched in terms of fuel economy, safety, and productivity,” said Eric leblanc, managing director, Volvo India.
Indian components make up 30 percent of these new trucks. "There is quality in the vendor system in India…but we need to have a certain volume to buy directly from Indian components suppliers," Leblanc told Autocar Professional.
Tyres, rims, fuel tanks, chassis components, cab trimmings and cab glass are some of the components Volvo sources directly from India for vehicles it sells locally. "It's very hard to source driveline components in a market where you count the units in terms of hundreds," said Leblanc. Last year, Volvo sold 600 trucks and 400 buses. Volume will have to be in the thousands to increase local content, he added.
Volvo, however, exports Indian components to its other truck plants, where they are assembled with other components and shipped as kits back to India. Volvo exported 50 million euros (Rs 275 crore) worth of truck components last year. The target for this year is to raise components exports to 70 million euros (Rs 375 crore). Volvo's Hoskote plant with a one-shift capacity of 1,200 trucks and buses a year will make the new FH and FM 13-litre trucks. The company has no investments planned for the plant since it can work on two shifts if there is an increase in demand for its vehicles.
GROWING THE MARKET
Leblanc said he does not see Volvo competing head-on with local truckmakers Tata Motors or Ashok Leyland because it offers different solutions to different customer segments. Volvo's volumes are also different, he added. "We see that Tata and Leyland are adapting their trucks more to higher performance and with better cabs. So we seem to be driving the change for them, rather than the other way around despite our smaller presence in India," he said.
Volvo trucks also have an advantage in terms of offering better fuel efficiency, and so a rise in diesel prices is a blessing in disguise for Volvo. "If you look at the mining sector, one Volvo truck does the job of four Tatas or four Leylands. Obviously with one engine you consume a lot less fuel. I think competition will focus on that," Leblanc explained.
While the FH truck will focus on heavy haulage operations, the FM model is targeted at operators in the bulk haulage, express cargo, petroleum, chemicals, mining and construction industries. "We're not focusing on Tata and Leyland. We are focusing on what our customers want," said Leblanc.