Volvo Group Australia’s new boss, Martin Merrick says he does not see the need to move to full Euro 6 compliance for the company’s truck range while Australia compliance legislation remains at Euro 5 level.
The Volvo boss was answering a question about the company’s opponents from Mercedes, Scania and even Kenworth (on one truck at least) embracing the higher Euro 6 protocol which is yet to be legislated or declared in Australia which remains a Euro 5 environment.
“The way we look at it we work with the government legislation and we have a production facility here that’s designed to work with that government legislation,” said Martin Merrick.
“But we also work with customers that have bespoke needs and if those customers have a particular need, then we have a global industrial system that we can call on that we can then look at, for example we’ve got FE Euro 6 and FM in Euro 6 so what the customer needs and what is happening to meet the current legislation, we will honour that, we will work with that and we will respect that, “ he added.
“We are a customer centric organisation and if customers really want it we will work with that but the government legislation is something that we have got to respect and we will respect it and we will plan for that,” he said.
Merrick said there are a whole lot of trucks on Australian roads that are well below Euro 5 emission standards and there is maybe something else that can be done to meet the environmental challenge.
Asked if there is something more that the Australian truck industry should be doing to reduce the age of the ‘truck park’ and improve emission and safety standards on our roads he said he believed there are some excellent organisations representing the Truck Industry to government to lobby in a good way.
“We will plan and have a timetable to meet any legislation, but what we need is clarity and if we get clarity we will work towards that , we have built a production facility here and we employ Australians locally, we spend $300 million in the local supply chain based on the government legislation and we will work to what ever that maybe,” Martin Merrick added.
Merrick is embracing the new role he has been in since being appointed to the position in September last year and moved to Brisbane from Gothenberg and says he is excited by the local engineering and manufacturing capabilities and also the fact that he is working with other VGA brands in Mack and UD.
He echoed his predecessor’s concerns over the skills shortage in the Australian market both in the area of drivers but also in terms fo technicians and mechanics.
“When I speak to customers attracting and securing drivers and attracting and keeping technicians is a real challenge for them and that is why we are investing heavily in our people and we need to speak more about this,” he added.
Volvo is now Australia’s largest vehicle manufacturer Merrick says he is optimistic about the future and especially about the company’s commitment to building trucks here.
Volvo has invested $50 million in local manufacturing and has recently signed off on a further $25 million investment in boosting capacity at the Wacol plant in Brisbane’s west.
Merrick said the company employs more than 50 engineers as well as purchasing, manufacturing and commercial operations making up the team at its Brisbane HQ.
“It means we can be really agile with teams that work with our customers and offer them a total solution,” he said.
“So long as we have customers here who have these demands for specific products for the Australian market, then we will have manufacturing here.
Volvo launched its new extended-cab FH Globetrotter XXL specifically for Australia with a sleeper cab that is 250mm longer than the standard one along with a new low entry FE aimed at waste and vocational market along with a 25th anniversary special edition FH.
“Australian customers asked for a bigger sleeper int he FH and we took that to Sweden and within eight months had a solution in the form of the XXL, It’s an example of the role Australia plays in the bigger picture,” he added.
Merrick said the company already had 50 orders for the XXL underlining both the viability of the model but also the flexibility of local manufacturing and engineering operations.
The low cab FE comes with larger glass and mirror surfaces to maximise driver visibility for urban vocation duties particularly in waste as well as in airport operations where its low cab height is ideally suited airport for fitting beneath the wings of aircraft.
Merrick said that the question of electrification is definitely on the agenda for VGA and that the company is planning trials of electric trucks here.
“We have launched the electric FE and FH in Europe and we will work with customers to manage demand,” he said.
He confirmed that there are some trials planned in Australia but but that he couldn’t discuss this at this stage.