Volvo Trucks chief vows to deepen Saudi presence

Volvo Trucks President Claes Nilsson gestures during an interview with Arab News at the King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh on Tuesday. He is flanked by Amr M. Khashoggi, vice president of human resources and group affairs at Zahid Tractor, left, and Nasser Jamil Bayram, director of Zahid Tractor’s commercial vehicles division. (AN photo)
Updated 17 May 2017

Volvo Trucks chief vows to deepen Saudi presence

RABIGH: Volvo Trucks is deepening its footprint in Saudi Arabia, the company’s President Claes Nilsson said Tuesday during a visit to the Kingdom.
“In all our markets, our main objective is to make sure haulage operators stay productive and can keep their Volvo trucks rolling, except for planned stops when we deliver efficient workshop services,” he told Arab News.
“Our customers in Saudi Arabia appreciate our trucks, and we have a good market share of 37 percent. In 10 years, we’ve nearly tripled our truck population in Saudi Arabia. Going forward, our ambition is to maintain that good volume momentum, significantly develop the services market and continue to make a positive contribution to our customer’s bottom line.”
He said Volvo has had a very fruitful relationship with Zahid Tractor for nearly 40 years. “This partnership brings together two very strong and recognized brands in Saudi Arabia, which give our customers a very strong business partner capable of making them more productive and profitable through our products and services.”
Nilsson said Volvo puts a premium on safety: “Safety is built into our brand heritage and culture. Volvo engineers are responsible for some of the world’s most important safety innovations, including the three-point seatbelt. Our vision is that no Volvo truck will be involved in an accident.”
Talking about the future of the heavy-duty truck industry, he said: “In the short term, we expect regional volatility to impact the local economy. In the long term, Saudi Arabia will continue to remain a priority market for Volvo Trucks, as we see much potential to grow our business through reforms and investments taking place under Vision 2030, which will help diversify and grow the Saudi economy.”
Nilsson said he was impressed by the pace of development in the Kingdom. “Last time I was in Saudi Arabia was five years ago. In these five years, I’m amazed to see the development. It’s very obvious in the infrastructure, roads and railways. It’s very impressive.”
Amr M. Khashoggi, vice president of human resources and group affairs at Zahid Tractor, said the company has been well-established for more than 100 years.
“Zahid has been a well-established business, owned by a family that has been in commerce for more than a 100 years. They have very strong shared values. And we are committed to them. Whenever we look for partnership, we look for like-minded organizations who share our values and vision, and who aren’t only concerned about earning money, but also building a business that lasts for a very long time.”
Nasser Jamil Bayram, director at Zahid Tractor’s commercial vehicles division, said the partnership started in 1980 with a vision to provide high-quality trucks and after-sales services to the growing Saudi market.
“For 37 years, this vision has been a reality thanks to the continuous joint efforts of both companies and the development of the Saudi workforce,” he told Arab News.
“In today’s global economy, we face many challenges. However, we believe that the Saudi market is large and flexible, with exceptional human resources and an environment conducive to local investment. We’re fully aligned with the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 and Vision 2030, specifically as they relate to the thriving industrial sector.”
He said working with Volvo, “we provide the best solutions for the transportation sector, and serve our customers through a number of branches strategically located throughout the Kingdom.”
Explaining Zahid Tractor’s plan to increase the local content of Volvo trucks in order to meet NTP 2020 and Vision 2030, Bayram said his company is aiming for 30 percent of materials used in the assembly of its trucks to be locally produced, while meeting international standards and specifications.
“With the Saudi Aramco-sponsored ‘Sufficiency’ program, and the fact that the market still needs local manufacturers to create healthy competition and a local abundance of products that can be exported abroad, there will be a reduction in the importation of products, which will result in an increase in the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP).”
He said Zahid Tractor recognizes that the transportation industry is a vital economic pillar for any country.
“Therefore, it’s imperative that all operators respect traffic safety regulations and not be distracted by any other factors or tools during driving that may endanger their lives and the lives of other road-users,” he said.
“We have a number of initiatives to create awareness for a safe driving environment, including campaigns that highlight the advanced and modern safety features of Volvo trucks. These campaigns are designed for government authorities, companies, customers and students.”
Bayram added: “In addition, we emphasize that in 2018, all long-haulage models of FH Volvo trucks will be equipped with safety and security features not as an option but as standard. The first objective is to reduce the number of accidents and injuries of road-users, as well as the cost of operation and protection of truck drivers. We’ll also work in cooperation with the authorities to create a safer traffic environment.”

New emissions blow for VW as German court backs damages claims

Updated 37 min 3 sec ago

New emissions blow for VW as German court backs damages claims

  • Scandal has already cost firm more than €30 billion; ruling serves as template for about 60,000 cases

KARLSRUHE, Germany: Volkswagen must pay compensation to owners of vehicles with rigged diesel engines in Germany, a court ruled on Monday, dealing a fresh blow to the automaker almost 5 years after its emissions scandal erupted.

The ruling by Germany’s highest court for civil disputes, which will allow owners to return vehicles for a partial refund of the purchase price, serves as a template for about 60,000 lawsuits that are still pending with lower German courts.

Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 to cheating in emissions tests on diesel engines, a scandal which has already cost it more than €30 billion ($33 billion) in regulatory fines and vehicle refits, mostly in the US.

US authorities banned the affected cars after the cheat software was discovered, triggering claims for compensation.

But in Europe vehicles remained on the roads, leading Volkswagen to argue compensation claims there were without merit. European authorities instead forced the company to update its engine control software and fined it for fraud and administrative lapses.

Volkswagen said on Monday it would work urgently with motorists on an agreement that would see them hold on to the vehicles for a one-off compensation payment.

It did not give an estimate of how much the ruling by the German federal court, the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), might cost it.

Volkswagen shares were 0.5 percent lower. The BGH’s presiding judge had signaled earlier this month he saw grounds for compensation.

Costs mount

“The verdict by the BGH draws a final line. It creates clarity on the BGH’s views on the underlying questions in the diesel proceedings for most of the 60,000 cases still pending,” Volkswagen said.

A lower court in the city of Koblenz had previously ruled the owner of a VW Sharan minivan had suffered pre-meditated damage, entitling him to reimbursement minus a discount for the mileage the motorist had already
benefited from.

The court at the time said he should be awarded €25,600 for the used-car purchase he made for €31,500 in 2014.

“We have in principle confirmed the verdict from the Koblenz upper regional court,” said BGH presiding federal judge Stephan Seiters.

Volkswagen had petitioned for the ruling to be quashed altogether by the higher court, while the plaintiff had appealed to have the deduction removed.

A Volkswagen spokesman said that outside Germany, more than 100,000 claims for damages were still pending, of which 90,000 cases were in Britain.

The carmaker also said it had paid out a total of €750 million to more than 200,000 separate claimants in Germany who had opted against individual claims and instead joined a class action lawsuit brought by a German consumer group.

The carmaker said last month it would set aside a total of 830 million for that deal.

In a separate court, Volkswagen agreed last week to pay €9 million to end proceedings against its chairman and chief executive, who were accused of withholding market-moving information before the emissions scandal came to light.