Volvo Powertrain’s global strength is decisive

Japanese quality, European state- of –the art technology and Indian production cost combined – all thanks Volvo Powertrains experience from working internationally.
Christina Hallin, Senior Vice President for Volvo Powertrain’s business office

2012 will see the start of production work on the Volvo Group’s new medium-duty engines. What is still a unique engine platform, developed by Volvo Powertrain under the leadership of the Japanese R&D center located in the city of Ageo and in close collaboration with the Lyon and Pithampur R&D centers.

The lion part of the medium duty engines will be used in the Asian market, and will be produced in a new plant in Pithanpur in India. The volumes for Europe will be assembled in Venissieux in France, and the volumes for Japan will be manufactured in Ageo.

The aim is to produce an engine at low cost but with high quality – partly to enable the Volvo Group’s trucks and buses seriously to penetrate the Asian market at market prices and partly to increase the margins in the medium-duty segment in Europe.

“In our European products, we are quite simply going to use low-cost engines which we produce ourselves rather than sourcing engines for our medium-duty trucks and buses from Deutz,” explains Christina Hallin, senior vice-president at Volvo Powertrain’s business office. She is cautiously optimistic when she talks about this gigantic project.

“I am not the kind of person who blows my own trumpet and says how fantastic everything is going to be. I leave that to other people. In spite of that, I really believe that the new medium-duty engine is going to be good for the Volvo Group. Doing what we are doing may seem complicated on paper, but we have what we need to make it a good business proposition.”

She lists the things that are necessary – and exist – for the engine to be developed, produced and then used worldwide. They are the Volvo Group’s ability when it comes to developing heavy-duty engines and adapting them for a range of products, combined with its experience of working globally, sourcing material all over the world and working with different customer groups. As far as production is concerned, a totally new plant is being built in India, where Volvo’s knowledge of effective production will be coupled with Eicher’s skills and know-how in terms of sourcing machinery and equipment at a low cost.

“Here at Volvo Powertrain, we have been working globally for some time. The latest example is the work we have done on the new US10 and PNLT engines, which were both transatlantic and transpacific projects. Work on the new engine is taking place even further away, but Volvo Powertrain has the necessary experience,” says Christina Hallin.

This new engine was part of the development portfolio that was included “as part of the deal” when the Volvo Group acquired Japanese UD Trucks, then known as Nissan Diesel, in 2007. It was decided that the engine should be fitted in Japanese products and, in the longer term, that it would be an engine for the entire Group. In 2009, Volvo Powertrain started to adapt this base engine in order to comply with the EuroVI emission standard, which will come into force in Europe in 2013.
“In addition to access to Japanese technology and know-how, one of the reasons for acquiring Nissan Diesel was to have a base in Asia in order to penetrate that market. We needed the joint-venture company VECV in India to move forward,” adds Christina Hallin.

Then came the idea of what is called the ‘long block’ – a naked engine assembled in India, which would then be shipped to Europe for final assembly to comply with the Euro VI requirements. What’s more, the work that is being done in Vénissieux in collaboration with Deutz has created good specification skills for medium-duty engines.

- We’re simply combining Japanese quality, European state- of –the art technology for Euro VI and Indian production cost to create an engine for the automotive needs of the whole Volvo Group, concludes Christina Hallin.  

Facts: Volvo Group’s medium-duty engines. The new medium-duty platform comprises 4.8- 5.2-, 7- and 8-litre engines with outputs ranging from 180-350 horsepower. These engines will comply with the Japanese PNLT (Post New Long-Term), US EPA 2010 and Euro III-IV-V-VI emission standards.

Image: Christina Hallin, Senior Vice President for Volvo Powertrain’s business office

Read more at Global Magazine No 1, 2011