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Volvo makes tough call to back out of Brisbane Truck Show

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With so much ongoing uncertainty around the pandemic, Volvo Group Australia is confident it made the right call to back out of the Brisbane Truck Show in May next year.

Volvo made the difficult decision earlier this month, after much deliberation.

“The current climate of uncertainty regarding travelling across state borders and the possible rapid implementation of social restrictions has created a challenging environment for all businesses to operate within,” VGA said in a written statement.

“This uncertainty coupled with the associated risks has affected events and exhibitions all around the world.

“These events require considerable resources and forward visibility to plan and execute. The recurring impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our society continues to affect planned events and travel.”

For the marquee acts at the Brisbane Truck Show (BTS), attendance doesn’t come cheap.

By the time all associated marketing costs and events are factored in, Big Rigs understands the bill can run north of $1 million for the bigger players.

But any suggestion that VGA is penny-pinching and winding-back in a challenging market is way off the mark.

The Volvo Group does a lot behind the scenes you won’t read about in a media release, including donating $600,000 earlier this year to bushfire relief.

Since then VGA CEO and President Martin Merrick has also invested significantly in the expansion of the Wacol plant to double-down on his commitment to producing Australia-made trucks.

In fact, a “significant” order for FM Euro6 460s was coming off the busy Brisbane assembly line when Big Rigs called earlier this month.

“We’ve previously imported Euro 6s to meet customer demand, and we could easily have brought more in by boat, but we’re finding the market’s wanting Euro 6 level emissions more and more, and we take a lot of pride in the fact we build trucks here,” says a spokesperson.

Volvo says it’s also excited about the demand for its medium-duty UD Croner, which was on show at the 2019 BTS, and the new 8×4 UD Quon.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the Quon from large fleets operating in the agitator and tipper space.”

The spokesperson stressed that VGA’s no-show at BTS 2021 isn’t a case of belt-tightening, but about being smarter and more targeted with how the money is spent.

“These events are a fantastic opportunity to put your best foot forward and showcase what you have to offer, but we’re looking at the climate, and we’re not sure if this is even going to happen.”

Todd Hacking, CEO of BTS organiser, the Heavy Vehicle Industry Association, says it’s always disappointing when a major exhibitor pulls out.

“However, it has happened before and we understand that COVID has impacted manufacturers to varying degrees, but the show will go on,” says Hacking.

“In fact, the show floor is like a bucket of water – you pull out and the spot is instantly filled, as it is in this instance. That is how much demand there is for space and the 2021 show is a sell-out.”

Star act PACCAR, the biggest crowd-puller on the main floor with its Kenworth range, tells Big Rigs it’s fully committed to the show and well underway with its exhibition design.

“We’re watching the situation, but we don’t have a reason not to go,” says marketing manager Kate Sykes.

“The Brisbane Truck Show is the shining beacon for the industry that brings everyone together en masse, and we’re really looking forward to it.

“There’s no question for us about not going.”

Daimler Truck and Bus President and CEO Daniel Whitehead had a similar message for fans of its Freightliner, Mercedes Benz and Fuso range.

“Daimler Truck and Bus is fully committed to next year’s Brisbane Truck Show, which is such an important event for the Australian trucking community,” he said in an emailed statement.

“We feel it is even more critical to engage with the men and women who keep Australia moving and support the local industry that we operate in during these challenging times.”

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