VOLVO CE: "Indian Market is of Utmost Importance"
Volvo CE continues to be leader in technology and innovation worldwide including in India… We are very optimistic and confident of Indian market. The Volvo brand name is well established and recently conducted brand surveys show this impressively… For Volvo CE the Indian market is of utmost importance. We would like to encourage all construction equipment users to work with us and our Volvo dealers across India. Once a customer has experienced our products and dealer network, we can become partners for a long time. Surveys are supporting this too showing our brand position as no 1, says Mr. Eberhard Wedekind, President, Region Asia, Volvo Construction Equipment in an interview with S.K Khanna.
What is Volvo CE's overview of the impact of global recession on global construction equipment business? Why certain regions like the US and Europe were badly hit, while other regions like Asia not seriously affected? Is global equipment market about to cross the hump? What important lessons need to be learnt from this crisis to avert such future shocks?
What started as a global financial crisis, which accelerated after the Lehman crisis and became a recession of the real economy has affected Volvo CE globally, also in Asia. When the financial crisis started construction equipment customers wanted to place orders for machines but they lacked liquidity. In the second phase of the crisis, orders could not be placed because actual lacks of work since projects were stopped. US and Europe were badly hit by the bank crisis and liquidity crunch but the difference in Asia was that the banking system stayed intact. Another big positive achievement in Asia was that the stimulus packages, mainly in China and Korea, were coming in effect much quicker and effective than elsewhere. Important lessons on a global level could be that there is a need for more global regulation of the financial system, since it all started in the financial work.
Volvo CE is regarded as the technology brand in India and worldwide. How does it maintain such standards, particularly in its Indian operations?
Volvo CE continues to be leader in technology and innovation worldwide including in India. An eight year product plan should guarantee a continuation of the good position. All R&D efforts focus on our core values; safety, quality and environmental care, and are expressed by Volvo CE remaining the leader in fuel efficiency for instance. Soft products are playing an increasingly important role moving forward.
From time to time, Volvo India has been focusing on consolidating and strengthening Volvo's presence in India. What are your latest drives with new specific products and services for India in particular and Asia market in general? Will there be any differentiation that Volvo prospective clients can look from Volvo new drives / initiatives?
Volvo CE has top three positions in articulated haulers, road machinery, wheel loaders, and excavators. The road machinery position has nicely developed after having acquired Ingersoll Rand's road division. An important addition to our product range was Lingong, Chinese manufacturer of wheel loaders, and the SDLG branded products that serve the value market, just below the premium sector where we typically are with the Volvo brand.
Personally you have a vast and in - depth experience in market developments. How different is marketing and promotion of construction equipment in India vis-à-vis other countries? What induces markets in India—Government policies, price of equipment, related technical services etc? What Indian market can learn from worldwide experience that you have so as to be more competitive enabling it to garner adequate piece of global business pie?
My personal experience is that within the global construction equipment the differences between various countries are not so significant. One difference between the Western Europe market and India / China is that we have the split between a clear premium segment and the value segment. Customers in value markets have different buying criteria's, and one way to address this is with the dual brand strategy (Volvo and SDLG) in India. One development we've seen in the US and UK is Rental business, which is huge in some markets. India is now picking up in Rents business, which is becoming more and more important for Indian customers. We started with Rents in 2009 and have opened three outlets this year in India.
Is it easy to create a market that has established players? How optimistic Volvo is on India prospects to spearhead its new products and services with deeper penetration in market place?
We are very optimistic and confident of Indian market. The Volvo brand name is well–established and recently conducted brand surveys show this impressively. Our Volvo dealers have been investing heavily for last three to five years with enormous focus on the aftermarket and soft products. For Volvo India, as part of the BRIC countries, is of highest importance moving forward.
Where do you place China equipment industry from India's business perspective? Can there be any complementary element in their approach to business process and business developmental strategies? (we interpret this question to more sim - pler read 'Can India learn from China?')
Looking at the industry segments there are differences in these two important markets and one big difference is the massive market for local wheel loaders in China, that doesn't exist in India where instead the backhoe loader concept is more prominent. In both countries, Volvo's approach is to understand and address the customer needs in various segments better than the competitors. In that respect, the differences are not so significant.
What will be your ultimate message that you would like NBM&CW to address to its wide readership as well as your existing and new prospective clients reminding them of Volvo deep commitment in engineering, developing and sustaining global supply of equipment and components with its iconic brands in construction equipment globally and locally?
For Volvo CE the Indian market is of utmost importance. We would like to encourage all construction equipment users to work with us and our Volvo dealers across India. Once a customer has experienced our products and dealer network, we can become partners for a long time. Surveys are supporting this too showing our brand position as No 1.