Volvo’s vote of confidence
Previous winner of the FOCUS on Excellence Award for Best Touring Coach, Volvo Southern Africa’s 2010 nominations, in no fewer than four FOCUS on Excellence categories, follow shortly after – and are only exceeded by – the quite remarkable achievement of receiving five nominations for these prestigious awards in 2009. Since nominations for the FOCUS on Excellence awards sponsored by Wesbank, are determined directly by customer approval ratings and votes, Volvo Southern Africa appears to be getting an emphatic “thumbs up” from the people that matter most.
As a safety-oriented and service-focused manufacturer of trucks and buses, Volvo Southern Africa’s progressive approach to automotive manufacturing is exemplified by its sound environmental credentials, its commitment to social development and public health, and its dedication to maintaining Volvo’s unparalleled standards in automotive safety and technology. In line with other vehicle manufacturers, Volvo Southern Africa still fits its trucks and buses with the landmark three-point safety belt – introduced by the Volvo Group in 1959. Nonetheless the company has significantly expanded on the Volvo “Safety First” tradition by implementing a road-safety programme in South Africa that has the joint objectives of reducing the severity of injuries sustained in accidents on the road and, more importantly, eliminating the occurrence of such incidents in the first place.
Volvo Southern Africa manufactures trucks that boast a number of key safety features that help to pre-empt the occurrence of truck accidents on South African roads. These include an optimal visibility cab design with large glass panels, powerful headlamps with High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs, large rear-view mirrors, various noise-reducing features, an Electronic Braking System and an Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system for safe distance retention. In the event that an accident does occur, however, truck features that reduce the severity of injuries include an energy absorbent cab interior, which conforms to the Swedish cab strength standard, and an underrun protection system that helps to protect other road users.
Safety and quality are the traditional drawing cards of Volvo automotive technology, of course, but with an annual increase in truck sales of 25%, Volvo Southern Africa’s after-sales services are also paying dividends. This fact is highlighted by Volvo’s nomination in the category of Vehicle Distributor with the Best Service Support for this year’s awards. “The service network is the biggest contributor to Volvo’s success and the major increase in market share,” comments Anders Lindblad, president of Volvo Southern Africa.
Volvo Optimised Service Plan (VOSP) programme provides customers with a free truck maintenance schedule to assist with service planning. Various service agreements are also available to Volvo truck and bus customers for vehicle checks, repairs and preventive maintenance. Furthermore, Volvo Action Service dispatches experienced technicians to Volvo customers for technical assistance, in case breakdowns are experienced, from the nearest Volvo Dealer. In addition, free basic driver training is provided with new vehicle handovers; the Volvo Trucks Driver Development Programme has been set up to optimise fuel consumption and reduce the operating costs of Volvo truck and bus clients.
Volvo Southern Africa’s trucks and service programmes are not the company’s only candidates for this year’s FOCUS on Excellence awards, however. Volvo has once again been nominated in the Best Touring Coach category. General manager of Volvo Southern Africa’s bus division, Marius Botha, points out that it is the reliability of the company’s buses that separates them from the competition. Reliability is an essential ingredient for securing customer satisfaction. “We have Volvo B12R bus operators that are closing in on 1.8 to 2.5 million kilometres with the original driveline components,” comments Botha.
Yet another factor in Volvo Southern Africa’s success is to be found in its implementation of various initiatives for reducing carbon emissions and minimising the adverse environmental impact of its operations. In the current socio-political context, one is beginning to see a fundamental shift in consumer interest in environmental issues and a consequent shift in buying patterns. Companies that promote environmental sustainability or are closely associated with such efforts are, more likely than not, the market leaders of tomorrow.
From the testing and introduction of Volvo hybrid vehicles in 2009, to the pioneering introduction of Volvo Bio-DME vehicles in 2010, the Volvo Group is making great strides in pioneering the technology of the future. The Volvo electric hybrid vehicles reduce fuel consumption by approximately 30%, while the Volvo DME (Di-Methyl-Ether) vehicles have at least 95% lower carbon emission levels in comparison with trucks that run on diesel. Volvo Southern Africa draws inspiration from these initiatives, and is constantly looking towards more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly technology for the local market. The Volvo truck tractor can be fitted with an exhaust filter that is a combination of an oxidising catalytic converter and a particle filter. The exhaust filter reduces hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particles by 80-90%, and is a highly effective cleaning technique for diesel engines.
Volvo Southern Africa’s trucks are, furthermore, up to 85 to 95% recyclable, and are designed in such a way as to facilitate the separation and recycling of the materials of which they are made. Approximately one third of the materials used in the manufacture of new trucks are derived from recycled materials. Volvo Southern Africa, in line with the Volvo Group, is increasing its focus on the full life cycle of all its vehicle, including production, service life and end-of-life phases with a view to decreasing the environmental impact of these products.
Volvo Southern Africa’s contribution to the general sustainability of socio-economic development in South Africa is not limited to its environmental initiatives, however.
The company won the Best Contribution to Fighting HIV/AIDS award in 2007, which is further evidence of its forward-thinking modus operandi. Volvo Southern Africa is a worthy recipient of its growing customer support-base in South Africa, which is confirmed by its four FOCUS on Excellence nominations for 2010.