Volvo Asia boss on flying visit Down Under

By: Steve Skinner

Christophe Martin checks out new Sydney dealership and reveals plans for UD brand in Australia

Volvo Asia boss on flying visit Down Under
Christophe Martin: UD Quester may come here


The Volvo Group’s President of Asia Oceania Sales recently visited Australia and spoke openly about company plans, most interestingly involving UD.

Singapore-based Christophe Martin, 45, is in charge of Volvo Group truck sales for 23 countries in Asia and Oceania – excluding Japan, the home of Volvo brand UD.

Australia and New Zealand are in his patch, and Martin toured Volvo Group Australia’s big new Sydney West dealership on the M4 Motorway at Blacktown.

Australia ranks seventh in the world in terms of revenue for the Volvo Group; and Martin says the Asia Oceania division is going great.

"Volvo group trucks in Asia-Pacific announced officially at the end of 2012 our will to grow our business by 50 per cent in three years," Martin says.

"We will not be there I think, but we will be very close to this."

Martin says the new model Volvo FH, FM and FMX − now available in Australia − have been selling extremely well in the 27 countries counted within Europe, where they were first launched in late 2012.

"What we can say now is we have increased our (heavy duty) market share in Europe by more than 3 per cent, from 15.5 per cent to 18.7 per cent," he says.

"Within the Volvo trucks brand, I think more than 50 per cent of the trucks are FH."

The Asian launch for the flagship FH was in Korea in May before 1,600 customers, "and we had an amazing number of orders ... The feedback has been tremendous". The next launch pad for the new FH is Brazil.

One of the biggest questions for Martin from truck journalists was: will the UD Quon get the 500 horsepower-plus (367kW) 13 litre Volvo group engine? The basic answer was: "No".

"To be very honest with you, I'm not sure I have the right answer but I think we know that it would fit in with the requirements here; I think it's a question of priority in terms of R and D costs and things like this," Martin says.

"I think the volumes we could generate in Australia most probably considering the priorities within the group have justified the fact that we did not go there.

"The group has invested recently more than Euros4 billion (A$5.8 billion) mostly for the Volvo range, for the Renault range and partly the UD range, and it is thought that we cannot afford to do all developments at this moment.

"Now we need to sell these trucks, now we need to put these trucks on the road."

But is no 13 litre engine for UD in Australia a case of protecting the Volvo brand’s market here?

"No it’s not … The overlap of our customers between the brands is very minimal. Very seldom do I meet customers who hesitate between UD and a Volvo.

"What drives this is an investment issue, we cannot afford to do everything … but it does not mean it will not happen because the 13 litre engine exists."

Intriguingly Martin says the company is considering introducing the UD Quester to Australia, a basic heavy duty truck developed for emerging Asian markets, with an 11-litre currently Euro 3 engine.

For more on Volvo Group Asia Oceania check out the feature in the upcoming August issue of ATN.

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