• Volvo Prepares for a Wild Truck-Market Ride

    Volvo Prepares for a Wild Truck-Market Ride

    2024 Volvo VNL truck on a track.

    The new Volvo VNL will enter into full production this Fall — just as the 2027 prebuy is starting to pick up steam.

    Photo: Jack Roberts

    It’s been a busy year for Volvo Trucks North America. Globally, the Swedish OEM has carved out a leading position in the drive to decarbonize heavy-duty transportation emissions. Here at home, that effort has been spearheaded by the launch of the all-new VNL Class 8 tractor.

    From its very inception, the new VNL was designed by Volvo’s global engineering team to take full advantage of every new technology available today — as well as a few technologies that haven’t been perfected yet.

    The result is Volvo’s greenest, most aerodynamic truck ever. It’s also the most connected truck the OEM has ever created. And it’s a truck that sets new standards for driver comfort, ergonomics and productivity as well.

    In mid-June, Volvo invited transportation journalists to its New River Valley truck manufacturing plant in Dublin, Virginia. The intent was to give an update on the state of the industry on the cusp of what appear to be some very turbulent months to come. Volvo also wanted to provide journalists with a more in-depth overview of the new VNL tractor.

    Investments at Home and Abroad

    Magnus Koeck, vice president, strategy, brand and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America, opened his remarks to journalists by noting that the VNL sneak-peek video earlier in the year garnered more than 25 million views on YouTube. And more than 7,000 people watched the actual truck launch live on the Internet.

    “I dare to say that Volvo has set a new standard when it comes to digital truck launches,” Koeck noted with satisfaction.

    Year-to-date, Koeck went on to say, Volvo’s market share is 0.7% higher than at the same time last year. Obviously, the OEM is looking for more robust growth, he added. And Volvo expects market share numbers to climb considerably when new VNL deliveries actually begin in the fourth quarter — in October, most likely.

    Magnus Koeck, vice president, strategy, brand and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America.

    Magnus Koeck, vice president, strategy, brand and marketing for Volvo Trucks North America, said he believes the “massive” 2027 truck prebuy has already begun. 

    Photo: Jack Roberts

    Volvo enjoys 43% market share in the North American electric truck market, Koeck added. So far, the OEM has delivered 470 VNR Electric models to 57 unique customers across North America.

    “The overall electric truck market in North America is 1,400 units,” Koeck added. “So, it’s still a very small market. But we know that it will grow. And we will in invest heavily in this technology for the future.”

    That said, Koeck acknowledged that it may take longer for that market to develop than originally thought.

    To date, Volvo has 62 certified electric truck dealerships in North America. Another 40 dealerships are currently in the process of obtaining that certification.

    “You cannot order a Volvo electric truck unless you are located near a Volvo electric-certified dealership,” he added.

    Taking a wider view of Volvo’s ongoing initiatives, Koeck noted that the OEM invested more than $400 million in the new VNL — including an all-new cab for the truck.

    He also stressed the urgent need for localized electric vehicle battery production in the U.S.

    Volvo is responding to that need with the purchase of battery manufacturer Proterra, Koeck added. Those assets include a battery manufacturing plant in South Carolina and assembly facilities in California. Koeck said Volvo will resume production at those locations soon and complement them with additional capabilities in the future.

    Volvo will also have an all-new, state-of-the-art truck manufacturing plant up and running in Mexico. The company is investing in this new plant to meet anticipated capacity demands in the Class 8 market heading into 2027.

    Has the Prebuy Begun?

    In January of 2027, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Phase 3 Greenhouse Gas regulations will become law. And Koeck — along with many other trucking experts — is anticipating a significant Class 8 “prebuy” ahead of that deadline.

    But right now, according to Koeck, the North American truck market is in a “correction” phase.

    “The second quarter of this year was the worst we’ve seen in a decade,” Koeck said. “But the market is now behaving exactly as we anticipated.

    “Overall, the industry recovered quickly from economic issues related to the COVID pandemic. That pace has slowed somewhat. However, private fleets are doing pretty well. And we are seeing signs that the 2027 prebuy has already begun and is slowly gaining steam.”

    1996 Volvo VNL truck on display at the Volvo Customer Center in Dublin, Virginia.

    A 1996 Volvo VNL rests in a place of honor in the Volvo Customer Center in Dublin, Virginia. 

    Photo: Jack Roberts

    All told, Koeck said, Volvo analysts are convinced that the North American truck market will rebound strongly by the end of this year — even if the economy softens somewhat.

    Simple math supports that prediction.

    “In 2027, a new Class 8 truck will cost $20,000 more than a comparable model does today,” Koeck said. “That’s why we believe there will be a massive truck prebuy in 2026. Again, we see signs it has already begun. We look for it to gain momentum in 2025, with 2026 likely seeing record levels of truck sales as demand outpaces supply.”

    Earlier this year, Volvo anticipated an overall North American truck market of 270,000 units in 2024.

    “That pacing is a little off,” Koeck said, adding that currently, the industry is on track to finish somewhere between 260,000 and 270,000 units.

    “Historically, though,” he noted, “270,000 units is still a strong market. But we think it will be even stronger in the next two years.”

    On the other hand, Koeck conceded that 2027 will not be a strong year at all.

    “We will just have to see how low the numbers will go,” he said. “And then we believe it will start to recover in 2028.”

    For those reasons, Koeck said Volvo believes the timing of the new VNL launch is very good.

    “We think we are positioned very strongly with a brand-new truck just as the market is coming back,” he said. “And as the market picks up momentum heading into the 2027 prebuy, we will be in full production of the new VNL model.

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