Volvo boss Martin Merrick says the company’s controversial decision to not participate in the Brisbane Truck Show is one that was made locally and will definitely not be reversed, even if restrictions on borders and travel are loosened.
Merrick, who has been the boss of the Volvo Group in Australia for just on two years, has had to make some difficult decisions in recent months, with the need to cope with the Covid crisis, work through a market downturn and manage a global belt tightening edict from Volvo HQ in Sweden, which is rumoured to have called on all subsidiaries around the world to save money and prepare to invest in new technologies for the upcoming zero emission and autonomous revolution.
The Scotsman has copped plenty of criticism for the decision to pull Volvo out of the 2021 Brisbane Truck Show, a move he defends on the basis of the uncertainty of the Covid 19 crisis and where things will be in May next year.
Merrick is emphatic the decision not to go was purely on Covid grounds and the uncertainties that threw up, refuting suggestions that it was purely a cost cutting measure, citing the large scale investment Volvo Group is making in local production facilities and technology, which he says far exceeds the cost of going to the Brisbane Truck Show.
He also says the decision not to exhibit at the show will definitely not be reversed.
” I will be very direct, my team has been very concerned and has been coming to me well in advance to speak about launching the four new products , we have invested 1o billion Swedish Kroner and there is four new models for Volvo, of course the Brisbane Truck Show would have been perfect for us to showcase those new models, however we didn’t know, will it be on, will it not be on, can customers and dealers travel, will there be travel will there not be travel, a whole lot to unknowns,”
“Our team here locally have said we really feel keen to do some things differently to launch our products in a good way, we were going from plan A to Plan F, what if, what if, what if,” he said
“The amount of time, effort and energy that used to go into organising a Brisbane Truck Show and the amount of time, effort and energy, commitment and resources to do a good launch then the team really said we recommend we don’t go to the Brisbane Truck Show.
“This was a local decision from the leadership team, and by the marketing team I’ve got to say who felt what was right to launch the products in a good way and to give our customers access to the trucks, so that was why the decision was made,” Merrick said emphatically.
Merrick says the team has a number of different flexible scenarios that will give theme agility to change depending on the restrictions and challenges that might come about in the uncertainties that Covid could still throw up.
He told T&B News that the company is investing $100 million over four years to manufacture new Mack models in Australia as well as $25 million to facilitate local Volvo Euro 6 production and that the company spends $200million a year with local suppliers to produce trucks at Wacol, contrasting that with he $2million the company would have spent on exhibiting at the Brisbane Truck Show.
“I can assure you it wasn’t a cost cutting measure, it was about a smarter way to launch our products in an uncertain environment,” Merrick concluded.