DUBLIN, VA. This week kicked off a series of 16 customer and dealer events at Volvo’s new Customer Center here. It was one of several big news events for the company – the others being an update on its new VNR regional tractor model which was introduced in April, and the first unveiling of an updated VNL line (you can read more about that launch here). Also, the company provided a quick look at the current market and projections for truck sales this year.
Also, the company announced that Active Driver Assist will now be standard on all VNR and VNL models. Active Driver Assist combines camera and radar sensors to detect metallic objects and vehicles that are stationary or vehicles braking in front of a truck. If a metallic object of size is detected, audible and visual warnings are made to alert the driver, including red warning light flashes reflected on the windshield. Warnings are displayed up to 3 seconds before impact with the stationary object. If the system recognizes the stationary object as a vehicle, and the driver does not take action, it will automatically alert the driver and engage the brakes to help mitigate the potential collision. Braking assist is available at speeds greater than 15 mph.
“Safety has always been part of the essence of Volvo Trucks, and it has been one of our core values since 1927,” Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America, said in a release. “Making Volvo Active Driver Assist with Bendix Wingman Fusion standard in Volvo VNR and VNL models demonstrates our commitment to improving the safety of everyone who travels on our roads.”
The Customer Center, which should be of interest to those buying Volvo trucks, features interactive displays, in-depth rooms to explore different aspects of Volvo trucks such as safety features and a “living” display of life on the road. The facility was part of a $38.1 million investment in the Dublin location which now includes a test track that opened last year and the company’s manufacturing plant, where all North American Volvo trucks are built – some 22,000 last year.
“We are very pleased to open the Volvo Trucks Customer Center, which we believe will serve as a destination for all of our North American customers and other visitors,” Nyberg said. “Now, our trucks, engines and transmissions are all spotlighted in one location, in a one-of-a-kind facility designed to offer a unique brand experience that only Volvo can offer.”
The 36,000-square-foot facility features a product showroom, two exhibit rooms, two pilot review rooms and a theater-in-the-round at the center of the building that seats 290. The theater-in-the-round revolves and has an 82-foot turntable.
An observation area allows customers to view the trucks traveling around the 1.1-mile Customer Experience Track, where banked corners enable highway speeds and numerous surfaces and grades permit drivers to experience difficult road conditions in a designated off-highway area.
The building is designed in the shape of the Volvo Trucks iron mark.
As to market projections, Claus Nilsson, senior vice president of Volvo Trucks sales, outlined the company’s current position in the market and its goal: to be number one.
“We have a very ambitious goal to be number one,” he said. “We want our customers to make more money and to be more successful than the customers of our competitors.”
He said Volvo expects North American Class 8 truck sales to finish the year around 215,000 units, saying “we believe the market has bottomed out and we see upward pressure on that number.”
He also noted that orders for the new VNR have already surpassed regional tractor orders from all of 2016.
Nyberg noted that U.S. manufacturing seems to improving and Volvo expects moderate growth to continue the rest of this year and into 2018. That bodes well for truckload carriers, he said.