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[Herald Interview] Volvo Trucks seeks to woo young, female drivers

Swedish automaker aims for 30% of Korean sales to be EV trucks by 2027

March 20, 2023 - 08:42 By Kan Hyeong-woo
Johan Selven, vice president of sales and marketing at Volvo Trucks International, speaks to The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Wednesday. (Volvo Trucks Korea)

Moving toward autonomous driving, Volvo Trucks is developing the technology to offer the best truck-driving experience to draw in young drivers and female drivers, while investing into its driver environment.

“If you later get the opportunity to drive the electric vehicle, it’s a fantastic driving experience. Smooth driving and great comfort in order to make the driver occupation more attractive, because we need to attract more younger, more females to drive trucks,” Johan Selven, vice president of sales and marketing at Volvo Trucks International, told The Korea Herald in an interview in Seoul on Wednesday.

Volvo Trucks presented the Volvo FH Electric for the first time in Asia during the media conference held at the Swedish truck maker’s exhibition at the EV Trend Korea 2023 at Coex.

The Volvo FH Electric, which is equipped with a battery that has a maximum capacity of 540 kilowatt-hours, has a 40-ton gross combination weight. The EV truck can be charged up to 80 percent in 1 1/2 hours by rapid charger. It is capable of driving 300 kilometers on a single charge, according to the company.

“Even though we are investing in autonomous solutions because there is a place for that, we are putting a lot more investment into the best driver environment in the world,” he said.

In order to accelerate the transformation into EV trucks, Volvo Trucks plans to install charging infrastructure at its 31 service networks in Korea and expand the charging network in cooperation with charging service providers to set up chargers at major ports and logistics sites across the country.

The Swedish company also announced its plan to invest 6 billion won ($4.6 million) to set up solar power facilities at its service centers before the year's end, which is expected to decrease 574 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Asked about when Korean customers will actually be able to receive their orders, Selven said the truck maker is undergoing the homologation process to meet the local regulations, but could not pinpoint the exact date at the moment. Volvo Trucks Korea aims to obtain the government's approval to deliver the EV trucks before the end of this year.

As for the reason Volvo Trucks decided to work with South Korean battery maker Samsung SDI for its EV truck battery, Selven underlined that the two companies make a good match.

“From the Volvo Group point of view, we really want to develop a partnership with one of the biggest and most forward-leaning, advanced companies in the world, and obviously Samsung SDI is one of them,” he said.

Volvo Trucks pointed to Samsung SDI’s quality as one of the key factors behind the Swedish truck maker’s partnership with the Korean battery maker.

In line with the global goal of having 50 percent of all truck sales as eco-friendly models by 2030, Volvo Trucks Korea set an ambitious target of selling 1,000 EV trucks per year by 2027. The Swedish company sells 2,000 to 2,200 trucks a year in Korea, according to the company.

Volvo Trucks has sold over 4,300 EV trucks in more than 38 countries since the company began the mass production of medium-sized EV trucks in 2019. The Swedish firm now sells six EV truck models.

“We believe a lot in the Korean market. I think we can cover a lot of the transport needs in Korea with fully electric trucks in the years to come,” said Selven.

Johan Selven, vice president of sales and marketing at Volvo Trucks International, introduces the Volvo FH Electric during a press conference held at EV Trend Korea 2023 in Seoul on Wednesday. (Volvo Trucks Korea)