More work coming for Volvo’s New River Valley plant

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Volvo is preparing to produce the redesigned VNL
truck series. Photo courtesy Volvo Trucks

Thanks to a new long-haul truck, Volvo has recalled all of the 2,400 workers it laid off in December at its New River Valley Plant.

The truck has more safety and comfort for drivers, more efficiency for owners and more jobs for Volvo’s factory in Dublin, the company’s largest truck plant. That plant is ready to begin production of the redesigned VNL truck series in September.

“Our employment is linked to the market and to the units that we sell,” says Franky Marchand, vice president and general manager of the New River Valley plant. “Having a strong new product that is the latest truck on the market can only be good news.”

Volvo unveiled its latest truck series in the company’s new customer center, part of a $38 million investment that included a new paint line and updated robotics.

“It comes with expectations to grow the business,” says, Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “We are convinced that the values we bring to our customers will give us a higher share of business here in North America.”

Volvo has about 10 percent of that long-haul truck market. Mack, also owned by Volvo, has another 10 percent. Daimler’s Freightliner has well over a third of the market.

In addition to an aerodynamic design and efficient drive train that gets more than 13 miles to the gallon while moving 80,000 pounds, the new VNL has improved safety systems, remote diagnostics and remote reprogramming. It has charging stations, USB ports, reclining bunks, connectivity, a rear view camera, a navigation system and two refrigerators – one of them under the passenger seat.

The company plans to show off these new trucks at the customer center and the adjacent test track. About 3,000 people already are visiting the track each year. With the new customer center, Marchand says, the company expects to “explode that number.”

Government regulations requiring more fuel efficiency and less pollution provide some incentive for truck buyers, Marchand says, but truck manufacturing is driven primarily by economic cycles and fleet replacement cycles, which seem to be turning in Volvo’s favor. The economy seems to be expanding, and the trucks are getting old. 

“There is plenty to be replaced,” Marchand says. “If the economy stays strong, for us the future is nice and bright.”

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