Driving Ahead

Roger Alm replaced Claus Nilsson as a member of Volvo’s Group Executive Board and President of Volvo Trucks early in 2019 and is a passionate driver of the company’s future directions.

Born in 1962, Roger Alm began his career with Volvo Trucks in 1989 as a design engineer and has progressed through the ranks including working as head of operations in Latin America and senior vice president of Volvo Trucks’ northern European operation.

Engineers are often either very taciturn or too verbose — there’s an old joke about ask an engineer the time and they’ll tell you how to build a watch. Neither is the case with Roger Alm.

He might have the global colossus of Volvo Trucks to run, yet he is able to articulate his deep understanding of, and commitment to, the net zero emission journey the organisation is travelling.

The year 2024 has already been a monumental one for Volvo Trucks with the launch of the completely new VNL platform into North America.

“This will be a game changer for the North American market,” Roger says.

“With the improved aerodynamics we are bringing down the fuel consumption on that product by up to ten per cent. We are improving the safety features, and we are improving the driver comfort as well. I am extremely proud of what we have been doing because this is the biggest launch of products that we have ever had at Volvo Trucks.”

Paralleling the launch of the bonneted VNL for North America, Volvo also gained attention for its latest developments in its cabover models.

“For Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia Volvo has developed the FH Aero which is capable of reducing fuel consumption by five per cent along with improved safety and comfort,” says Roger.

“This model is coming both with a combustion engine and also in an electric application and is the most energy efficient truck that we have. We are also presenting an upgrade of the 16-litre engine [now 17-litres] to bring that up to 780 horsepower — the most powerful truck on the market.”

Manufacturing is also underway on a new FM with low entry, which will only be available in an electric application.

Market acceptance and industry recognition have already brought delight and vindication to Volvo in relation to the recent models.

“Last year we were rewarded as [European] Truck of the Year for the FH Electric,” says Roger. “This was a great moment, extremely emotional and a source of great pride for all of us in the Volvo Group due to the fantastic work done by our entire community of engineers. This was the seventh time we got the award as Truck of the Year and the fourth time for the FH. We have now had the FH in production for 30 years and have sold more than 1.4 million units of this product. And we were the first to receive the Truck of the Year award for an electric truck, and this is a great step into the new area in terms of fossil free applications.”

Despite its age, it seems the Volvo FH will be around for a while yet.

“It has been a successful product for more than 30 years and we will certainly continue with it for quite a time,” says Roger. “We love that truck!”

Roger calculates that all of the electric trucks Volvo has produced and delivered since 2019 have driven more than 35 million kilometres.

“That is approximately 900 laps around the world. That is massive, but we will continue to grow because it is so very important that we do,” he says.

“We are very much focused and determined that we reach that zero emission target in 2040. To do that, we need to start today by offering all kind of products for many applications, for all kind of markets and for all kinds of customers.”

While the development of the 17-litre diesel engine for the Volvo FH may have surprised some industry pundits, Volvo Trucks has made no secret of its intention to further explore internal combustion engines which use alternative fuels.

“We will of course have electrification, and we will also have the combustion engine, we will have LNG, we will have biogas, we will have HVO and a lot more than that,” Roger says.

“We are standing strong and wide in offering our products and powertrains.”

Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks Global.
Roger Alm.

Volvo as both a car and truck brand has a strong reputation for safety and Roger Alm sees that continuing as a key factor in future designs.

“Safety is in the DNA of Volvo Trucks and when we design things in our product offer it starts really with the driver and a safety focus,” he says.

“For Volvo it started with the seat belt many years ago and since then we have really been innovative in terms of improving our safety applications.”

Globally, Volvo Trucks delivered approximately 145,000 trucks during 2023, about the same as it did the previous year in 2022 when it gained increased market share in 40 countries.

“We have been able to hold that market share in 2023 and we are standing very strong from a commercial business point of view and we therefore have the ability to make the investments we need to do into a complete new product range,” says Roger.

“But it is just more than the product. We need to combine the product with all other service offers that we have, making benefits for the driver and the operator to reduce cost because we need for them to have no problems.”

It’s not enough to design, build and provide trucks, reliability and aftersales service are also critical factors for customers.

“We need to make sure that our trucks are operating on the road and we are providing the up-time and security to our customers so they can have the operational efficiency and transport their goods,” Roger explains.

“Then we will take care of the service, the maintenance and give them security by operating as the one entity. We have a distribution network of 2,300 service locations around the world. We need to make sure that they’re fulfilling stand-out quality and competence to handle the business of Volvo Trucks. We have a very strong and competent network with 20,000 technicians working on the trucks every day to support our customers with up-time and have their trucks on the road.”

Nor will it stop there according to Roger.

“We will continue our journey to develop our products, to have innovation, to further improve our product offer, to further extend our ranges, to further lift Volvo products to become more fossil free, to become more energy efficient, to reduce fuel consumption, to improve safety and also improve driver comfort,” he says.

“You will see more innovation and you will see more product uptakes coming into the near future from Volvo Trucks.” There’s a bigger picture at stake. It’s the environment which Roger Alm feels equally strongly about.

“We all know we cannot wait,” he says. “We have generations of children and grandchildren that we want to hand over what we have today in a better shape.”

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