Henrik Henriksson is impressed with what he sees happening in Australia.
Henrik Henriksson is impressed with what he sees happening in Australia.

Australia's focus on safety impresses Scania's top man

WHILE the head of Scania trucks and buses believes Australian legislators are lagging behind Europe in the control of emissions, he has been impressed by the local trucking industry's focus on safety.

President and CEO of the Swedish company Henrik Henriksson last visited about three years ago.

"There's a lot of things that I'm impressed with, coming to Australia," Mr Henriksson said.

"There's a lot of development, there is a lot of sophisticated customers both on trucks and on buses. When it comes to how to run logistics … it's impressive to see the scale of professionalism and I think one of things that comes through very clear is the focus on safety. It's world-class. I haven't seen it anywhere else in the world where it's that focused."

But he has found it surprising that governments are reluctant to legislate for greater emissions controls.

"We see that also from our customers that many of them already they are using Euro 6 [emission standards] and most of the vehicles that we supply for example are Euro 6 already," Mr Henriksson said.

"So why the legislature's not following this, it's a little bit surprising. But all in all I would say [we have been] very impressed with what we have seen these days, it just shows how the market is growing. It's amazing."

Mr Henriksson said Scania was on a quest to be part of the solution in tackling climate change, where close to 20 per cent of global CO2 emissions were being generated by heavy transport.

"We have a clear purpose as a company and that is to drive the shift towards more sustainable transport solutions," he said.

"We are part of the problem but we want to be part of the solution. And we believe that we need to drive this change, we cannot just sit and wait for it to happen, which means that we need to engage with our customers, with our customers' customers, with fuel suppliers, energy suppliers, policy makers, politicians, global organisations, NGOs, to be able to drive this change."

He also admitted that company still had work to do to meet the needs of its Australian customers.

"We need to continue to develop our product range to suit this very demanding market, but I think we have the pieces of the Lego in place. It's just a matter of making sure that they fit together and that we tailor-make it to the customer's need. But we also see that there is a potential to also work with new technology, both when it comes to new powertrains running on biofuels, to test electrification, hybridisation. The time is right to try to push these new."

Scania is now positioning itself to meet the demands of belonging to the Traton Group, which also includes Volkswagen.

Mr Henriksson said regardless of what happens within the group, Scania and Volkswagen have already found a way of cooperating in purchasing, in powertrains, electrification and autonomous vehicle systems.

He said that it also meant that changes would come through quicker.

"We spent more than €2 billion ($A3.2 billion) investing in the new truck range. If we were sort of on our own today we would probably say that, 'Oh come on, let's digest that investment (see how that) feels in the balance sheet and the income statement. And then let's wait a few years before we kick off another big one.' But now, since we're part of a bigger group, already few years ago we kicked off the next generation of powertrains."

He said that meant advances in technology could be available to Scania customers three or four years earlier that expected.

"I think that is the great benefit of this group, it is that we can bring more features and technology, things that makes our customers more profitable, to the market quicker than if we were on our own."