Volvo, Freightliner Position Themselves for Increase in Hybrid Vehicle Demand

No shortage of hybrid news kicking around today. There’s an announcement here concerning Freightliner’s pitch for a piece of the medium-duty hybrid market, whilst here is a tale about Mack’s take on the genre. We assume that the Freightliner variant is closely reelated to Fuso's Eco Hybrid. We don't make any assumptions about Mack and Volvo, because our conversations with the US end of the Swedish OEM tend to be a touch stilted.

We tend to take a very dim view of the whole alternative fuel thing. With BioDiesel actually costing more – in energy terms – to produce than its resulting benefits offer, it is no alternative. GTL and CTL fuels similarly fail to stand up to any form of robust cost benefit analysis.And so hybrids look to offer at least a part solution to the problem of diminishing oil supplies. It’s interesting that much of the impetus for their development comes from the end user – UPS, FedEx, WalMart – and, in the case of the Mack thing discussed above – the USAF – are all driving hybrid development, and the OEMs appear to be responding.Is this a case of socio-environmental responsibility on the part of the end user? Don’t know – hybrids seem to be this year’s big thing, but could yet turn out to be the automotive equivalent of the Betamax VCR. We will wait and see.

CNHTC Aims for $1 billion Exports by 2010

Volvo’s current Chinese truck JV partner China National Heavy-Duty Truck Corporation (CNHTC) has been doing a bit more sabre rattling. It expects its annual overseas sales to jump five-fold to $1 billion in four years as it aggressively pushes sales beyond its domestic market, says this report in the Peoples’ Daily.

CNHTC had sales revenues of $200 million in 2006 after exporting roughly 6,800 vehicles that year. In 2007, it hopes to export 10,000 units, a figure that is predicted to rise to as many as 40,000 by 2010. This would see its overseas turnover rise to $1 billion.It hopes to see domestic sales in excess of 80,000 in 2007, up a third from 2006. By 2010, it is aiming for domestic sales of 125,000 units.CNHTC has been focusing on developing markets in Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, where pricing remains a key factor to attract buyers. As such, it is bumping into Volvo on a regular basis – its dealing in Iran being just one example.To help fund the expansionary drive CNHTC has been preparing for an IPO in Hong Kong, likely during the first half of 2007. And we are left to wonder quite how the relationship with Volvo will continue; maybe this is the reason for the Swedish OEM’s knee-jerk exercising of its option to buy a majority stake in Nissan Diesel, which, in turn, owns a 50 per cent piece of DongFeng’s truck business.