Scania’s journey to sustainability

It’s always a big deal when a truck maker introduces a new model. It is an even bigger deal when it introduces a new flagship which spearheads a complete revision of its entire range. Mercedes did it a few years ago when it revealed its new Actros, which we hope will eventually make it to SA in 2018.

Scania's Journey To Sustainability

That date seems likely for the new Scania too, although the company is unable to put a time frame on the local roll-out of its new models as yet.

Scania gathered some 1,200 guests and media together under the glass roof of the Grand Palais in Paris to reveal not just its new trucks, but its new strategy.

“Scania is on an extraordinary journey,” said its president and CEO, Henrik Henriksson. “Our promise is not just about business. It is about developing a sustainable future. There has been an exploding demand for the movement of goods and people, putting pressure on the environment,” he said. That view was echoed by guest speaker and former United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan. “No business can succeed in a society that fails. The transport sector will be absolutely crucial. We must make the economic case for sustainable transport. The growth of transport should not harm the people or the planet,” he said. Henriksson says that Scania is committed to smart and safe transport solutions, pointing out that since 2011 every Scania truck has been equipped with connectivity systems. These systems have provided the truck maker with valuable insight into how businesses operate and enabled it to tailor its products.

“From our connected fleet we know trucks in Europe only run at 60% capacity,” he said. It is this feedback that is enabling fleet managers to make decisions on routes, capacity and other areas which not only improve efficiency but reduce costs and reduce the impact of trucks and loads on the environment.

Efficiency is a key issue at the moment. Many transport companies in Europe are operating with only a 2% margin, which Henriksson says means they only make their profit in the last week of the year. It requires trucks and fleets to become smarter. This is the one of the major aims of the new Scania truck lineup. According to Christian Levin, Scania’s head of sales and marketing, the new models have been built from the ground up to meet the needs of 21st century transport. The company has invested billions and spent 10 years developing the new trucks including putting in more than 10-million kilometres of testing.

“The new range is designed to meet more demanding standards than ever before,” said Levin. It includes the latest generation of Euro 6 engines, all of which will be HVO compatible. They also feature the world’s first rollover curtain airbags in a truck and, of course, a whole new suite of connected services. These services will include a new generation of preventative maintenance systems. Levin says the new trucks will allow a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach to maintenance, with trained workshop technicians monitoring when a truck needs attention and contacting the customer in advance.

Henriksson said the company is also working on a number of future technologies for its trucks too. These include an extension of its alternative fuels strategy, as well as the possibility of fully electric vehicles which will boast wireless charging. It is not just about changes under the skin, though. The new trucks feature an evolution of the familiar Scania design, updated with a view to remaining fresh and modern for a potential 10-year life cycle. The interior has also been extensively designed and the company has called on the expertise of fellow Volkswagen Group companies such as Audi and Porsche. An obvious example of this is the Audi style digital dashboard which can provide a vast amount of information for the driver. Taking a look around the cab it was clear there has been a strong focus on driver requirements. There is a vast amount of space and enough storage nooks and cupboards to make one wonder if the cab is not a better place to spend the night than a room at the local truck stop.

The seats have been designed and engineered for maximum comfort and there is added safety above and beyond that new curtain airbag system. The question now is when the new trucks will make it to SA. The local operation is already testing the new engines with a long-distance customer. This will be vital to establishing when it will be possible to bring the new trucks with the latest generation engines to this country. It is all designed to be more comfortable and more efficient, with Scania claiming that the combination of new engines, improved aerodynamics and greater technology will deliver up to a 5% improvement in fuel economy. Chatting to some of the big customers that Scania SA took to Paris for the reveal, it is that figure that will matter the most. Today the bottom line is being watched more closely than ever and the new trucks will have to protect those very pressured margins.

Levin promised that the new trucks will be the “most sustainable, fun to drive, money-making machines in our history” . If it can follow through on that claim, then Scania should have another winning formula.

Source: Business Day

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