Change and Innovation Drive GrowthFri, 09/01/2017 - 10:35
Q: What are the main concerns of heavy-vehicle users and how can Volvo address them?
A: Clients buy our products to offer their own services in a timely and effective manner, which means that a broken unit stuck in a warehouse is not generating any money. Our offering goes beyond a bus; it is a profitable mobility solution. We need to deliver quality products and back them up with efficient support services. Close contact with customers is essential, especially if they service and repair their own units.
We train mechanics and operators on how to best service our buses. We also have maintenance contracts with several fleets, relieving clients of any worry regarding maintenance. The Mexican market is becoming more open to servicing contracts and we already have 600 deals within our existing client base. In addition to maintenance services, we have an expansive availability of spare parts. We can solve 96 percent of our clients’ demands immediately and only 4 percent of orders have to be scheduled for later. Our network of 50 distribution and service points is essential to guarantee this level of efficiency and to meet our objective of keeping all Volvo vehicles up and running as long as possible.
Q: What factors drove Volvo’s success in 2016?
A: Two factors propelled our growth. One was the success of the 9800 model, a major update from the 9700 model in terms of design and technology. The 9800 is taller and wider with top-quality noise-canceling technology for passenger comfort. It is also lighter and 5-7 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. This new generation of buses includes our safety technology package, which is a major pull factor for owners and also for passengers. The system includes an emergency brake assist that stops the bus if it gets too close to the car in front and a lane-keeping assist that sounds an alarm and makes the driver’s seat vibrate if it detects the bus leaning toward the other lane.
The creation of our chassis offering for third-party body manufacturers was an outstanding success. Of the 755 units we sold in 2016, 200 were chassis. This was a huge step for us, having been a one-stop shop for 18 years. Although that was a good strategy, we had to adapt to the needs of the market. This has pushed us to compete in new segments. Our complete models participating in the lower end of the coach segment, including the 8300, were efficient vehicles but less attractive in terms of design or cost-effectiveness. Now, we can offer our B410R and B290R chassis to body manufacturers and they can add their own interior and exterior design without losing the performance of a Volvo bus.
Q: What are your goals for the chassis market?
A: We plan to keep growing our chassis supplier arm so we also have to work on our market image. We are establishing new relationships in the market and body manufacturers are becoming our partners, although they remain our competitors in the luxury segment. Clients need to test our vehicles to appreciate Volvo is now a strong alternative for chassis. In just one year we sold 200 chassis and many were bought by returning clients.
Q: What is Volvo’s position in the urban segment and how is the company innovating to grow its position?
A: The urban segment is the biggest branch of the bus market and Volvo has focused on maintaining its leading position in the BRT segment, participating in special tenders. We became BRT promoters in many cities and work closely with the government and operators across the country. We are also a strong competitor for low-entry units and were the first company to offer these models in Mexico.
The next step for Volvo is the introduction of Euro VI buses into the urban segment, even though NOM-044 established Euro IV as the industry standard until 2020. Mexico is invested in having the best technology to control pollution, particularly in Mexico City.