Despite immediate market challenges, world-leading engine manufacturer Volvo Penta is playing the long game in the Gulf with highly cost-effective products and outstanding aftermarket support.
The market for off-road engines in the Middle East remains stable but a number of political and economic uncertainties could easily upset the balance. At the same time, demand for gensets is in constant flux. Both these factors make it difficult to forecast sales, yet global leader Volvo Penta is assured of its bright future in the region.
“We are keeping up with our market share and the Middle East will continue to be a very attractive and strong area for Volvo Penta going forward,” affirms Peter Karlsson, who is responsible for Sales & Marketing within Region International.
The main market for Volvo Penta in the Middle East is gensets with customers buying fairly evenly across the range from 5 liters up to 16 liters. They are typically looking either for a reliable source of back-up power for hotels, hospitals and other essential services or cost-effective primary power generation in areas where energy is scarce.
Volvo Penta is now also experiencing increased interest in its off-road products, especially for port container handling applications. “We have placed a lot of focus on container handling at ports in recent years and this is now one of our biggest sectors,” Karlsson says.
Low total cost of ownership
With no emissions regulations, the Middle East is typically a price-driven market but Volvo Penta has found much support among customers for its low total cost of ownership (TCO). “If customers are looking for the cheapest purchase price, we are not able to compete,” Karlsson explains. “What we can offer are reliable and fuel-efficient engines that are cost-effective throughout their service life.”
Minimizing emissions is priority for Volvo Penta and the Volvo Group overall as the company is dedicated about climate change mitigation and environmental sustainability. As a result, Volvo Penta does not supply any engines rated below Stage II in the Middle East, despite it being perfectly legal to do so.
“Our dedication to environmental care may lead some potential customers in the Middle East to perceive us as being more expensive but our low fuel consumption allows us to deliver an extremely attractive TCO,” he asserts.
World-class aftermarket support
Alongside an impressive TCO, Volvo Penta counts its comprehensive aftermarket support as another key strength in the Middle East. “Overall, we have quite an extensive dealer network in the Middle East but we are always looking for ways to expand this for our customers,” Karlsson says.
Volvo Penta is committed to continuous improvements in aftermarket services. The OEM works with private importers in each country who have a wide footprint of fully-stocked owned and independent dealers and are never far from the customer, wherever they are located. In this respect the company combines the best of the global organisation with local support.
Volvo Penta also takes competence development seriously, employing the Volvo Group’s tried and tested ‘Train the Trainer’ concept. This sees Volvo Penta not only train the private importers on how to maintain the engines but also teach their own dealer network to do it too.
The result is a vast network of service technicians across the region, who are ready and primed with all the latest skills and parts to get customers’ engines back on the job as soon as possible.
Finally, as an independent engine supplier Volvo Penta never competes with its OEM partners. “We don’t make gensets ourselves. We make the engines for the gensets, meaning we are not competing with our own customers. I think this makes us very attractive,” Karlsson explains.
While forecasts may be uncertain, there can be no doubt of Volvo Penta’s ambitions for greatness in the Middle East. As recent successes have shown, industry-leading TCO and world-class aftermarket support are a winning combination that will stand Volvo Penta in good stead in the years to come, whatever market conditions may hold.