BRT Systems an Enormous OpportunityThu, 09/01/2016 - 20:40
Q: How has Volvo Buses developed its strategy for Mexico considering the evolution of urban mobility plans?
A: Electromobility is the best bet to address Mexico’s mobility and environmental challenge, with hybrid, electric hybrid and electric buses. Several countries are already implementing various electricity solutions. Volvo, for example, no longer sells fully diesel-fueled buses in Europe and we already have routes with purely electric buses. Mexico has an excellent opportunity to integrate this technology but the evolution is not only technical. It needs to be supported with financing solutions. Hybrid and electric buses require a larger initial investment but we also need to consider the vehicle’s total cost of ownership.
Q: How does the country’s penchant for oil and natural gas, and a lack of supporting infrastructure, impact mobility plans?
A: Mobility is changing and we cannot allow technological development to stagnate — otherwise, we would never have created the internal combustion engine. Our systems do not need complex infrastructure and there are already several hybrid buses circulating in the city. Electric hybrid buses are the next step toward fully electric mobility but even including the cost of advanced infrastructure, the necessary investment would be more than affordable. Mexico is an important natural gas producer but this energy source is not adequate to address its climate expectations. Having signed the 2015 Paris climate deal, Mexico is now committed to holding global warming below 2°C and the only way to fulfill this expectation is through electromobility.
Q: How is Volvo participating in Mexico City’s vehicle park renovation strategy?
A: Volvo is Mexico’s leader in BRT technology but this segment is only a fraction of the public transportation network. The company still needs to increase its participation in the rest of the market. We won a tender in 2015 for the RTP system but we consider BRT systems to be the optimal solution for urban mobility. There is an enormous area of opportunity to develop this technology in Mexico. We are participating in the new Metrobús lines and we have a close relationship with operators and the authorities.
Q: Where has Volvo focused its innovation strategy in the coach segment?
A: The company has renewed its business plan for coaches, focusing on the development of the new Volvo 9800 and on offering chassis to third-party manufacturers. The latter decision allowed us to participate in market segments where Volvo did not have a considerable presence. Volvo products such as the 8300 and the 8300 S suited this market but were not competitive against our competitors’ models. We began working with Beccar, Irizar and Marcopolo and the resulting portfolio has generated 42 percent market share for Volvo Buses.
The 9800 is the evolution of the previous Volvo 9700. The new version features a more contemporary style and it has enjoyed significant success in the market. It is lighter than the 9700 and it has an adjustable height system that lowers the bus as it reaches 80km/h. We also made many aerodynamic improvements to the external design, directly influencing fuel consumption. The 9800 is also taller and wider inside, resulting in much greater comfort.
Q: What is the foremost advantage Volvo has over its competitors in this segment?
A: All our competitors are vastly experienced, which motivates us to keep innovating and offer the best service possible. The 9800 is the only complete coach on the market since all our competitors work on the chassis and outsource all body manufacturing operations. This has given us a competitive edge since we began producing the 7550 16 years ago. We are the only OEM offering stainless steel and engines that last more than 4 million km. Likewise, safety is an inherent value for Volvo. Our vehicles are equipped to help prevent accidents but if there is one, the vehicle is designed to minimize the impact and consequences for passengers.
Aftersales services are equally important in differentiating our brand. Our position in the market encourages trust in our operations and customers know they can count on us at any moment. No bus is perfect. The best product is not the one that does not fail but the one with the best client support.