The history of Volvo trucks in Australia started in the late 1960's then as part of the Volvo car activity. In July 1970, a new company, Volvo Australia Pty Ltd, was formed to strengthen the Volvo brand and the support available for car, truck and bus customers. Starting modestly with 95 employees in 2 converted warehouses in Sydney, the growth in Volvo popularity meant these faculties were soon outgrown and new purpose built facilities were built in 1971.
This was the trend in major capitol investment over the next five years, with Volvo locations opening in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
In June 1972, just 4 years after commencing commercial vehicle operations in Australia, Volvo opened a large plant in Wacol, Queensland to assemble its range of trucks and bus chassis.
At that time, it was the 2nd largest Volvo truck assembly plant outside of Sweden and even today, it is the largest truck assembly plant in Australia.
Wacol factory expansion 1972.
Volvo Trucks (sv: Volvo Lastvagnar) is a global truck manufacturer based in Sweden, owned by Volvo Group - AB Volvo it is the world's second largest heavy-duty truck brand.
The first Volvo truck rolled off the production lines in 1928 and in 2011 Volvo Trucks employed about 19,000 people around the world. With global headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, Volvo manufactures and assembles its trucks in 15 countries. Volvo Trucks produces and sells over 100,000 units annually.
Volvo Trucks sister truck companies in the Volvo Group includes, Renault Trucks, Mack Trucks and UD Trucks (Nissan Diesel Trucks).
The Volvo F88 was a heavy vehicle introduced in 1964. It was a particularly advanced vehicle for its time, with an all-steel-constructed cab at a time when some British manufacturers were still producing wood-framed with alloy panelling vehicles. Also, unusually for the late 1960s, it was available with a sleeper cab with additional space behind the driver where a bunk was fitted. Power outputs ranged from 260hp to 318hp DIN (290bhp BS AU 141)with an 8 or 16 speed gearbox. This was another major selling point, as a typical UK 32 ton articulated truck of the time made do with a 180hp Gardner and a 6 speed gearbox. The extra power made the F88 a particularly fast truck and it gained instant popularity, thanks also to its unheard of levels of road holding and driver comfort, with fully adjustable seating, heater and radio.
A derivative of the F88 was the G88 introduced in 1969, which was basically the same vehicle but with the front axle fitted 30 cm further forward to allow greater axle spread, necessary to increase the gross vehicle weight in Sweden up to 52.5 tons. The G-version was sold mainly in Sweden, Norway and Australia. The fact that today's trucks are built over exactly the same receipt as the F88 proves that it was decades ahead of its time. The last F/G88 left the assembling line in 1978.
The F88 today is regarded fondly by many as the first of the modern generation of "driver friendly" trucks, and in Europe is recognised as "THE" classic truck, with examples in good condition worth a great deal of money.
Volvo is without doubt the most popular of the Swedish truck manufacturers in Australia and at one stage it ranked number one in heavy truck sales. From the G and F model cabovers to the long-nosed N models, Volvo has always had plenty of dedicated Volvo drivers in Australia. In the 1990s Volvo reiterated its commitment to the Australian road transport industry by becoming a foundation sponsor of the industry’s peak body, the Road Transport Forum.
The first two Volvos to arrive in Australia were brought in by D. H. (Peter) Antill and P. H. (Max) Winkless. Peter Antill was the manager of an interstate trucking operation called Antill Ranger, which was later acquired by the Mayne Nickless Group. In 1958 the Antill Ranger business was extended to include a Truck Sales and Service operation and by 1970 it was handling Volvo trucks and buses. In 1965 the duo obtained concessions to bring Volvo here. Years of experience in the road transport industry had convinced them that despite the fact there were al ready 28 marques competing for business in Australia, Volvo would be a winner. Subsequently, the first few Volvos, the single drive F86, F88T, FB86 and the FB88T arrived on Australian soil in 1967.
In 1970, Volvo Australia was formed as a part of a joint venture between AB Volvo and Swedish Motor Importers and by 1972, the company had established a $2 million assembly plant at Wacol, Qld, coincidently on a site that had previously been occupied by British Leyland. Over the seven year period from its formation, up to 1977, trucks sales increased from 167 a year to just over 1000.
Initially Volvo in Australia concentrated its effort on the medium truck range, not giving any serious consideration to the smaller or larger ends of the truck market. It wasn’t until Lindsay Fox visited Sweden in 1987 that Volvo decided to introduce its small F7 model to Australia. Fox had been so impressed by the efficiency of the small truck that he told Volvo the truck would do well in Australia. With nearly 2000 trucks in the Linfox fleet, Volvo heeded the advice and two FL6 trucks were sent to work on a trial basis in Linfox’s beverage distribution fleet. Linfox subsequently ordered another seven FL6s and Volvo’s small truck range has gained much popularity since. At the other end of the scale the FH16 Globetrotter released in 1995 is making a name for itself among the heaviest trucks on
Volvo Truck milestones in Australia – the Early days
In 1967, Swedish Motor Importers P/L, under the leadership of Max Winkless, import four F86 4x2 trucks for evaluation. Two units operate with Mayne Nickless and two are used for demonstration and promotion
SKD assembly operations are established in Wollongong, NSW.
March 1968 – the first retail sale occurs. Brambles Port Kembla buy a F86. A total of 27 trucks are delivered to customers
1968 saw the release of the larger, more powerful F & G88 models.
In 1969, 96 trucks are sold.
On 1 July 1970, Volvo Australia P/L formed – a collaboration between Swedish Motors and AB Volvo. In 1970, 200 trucks are sold
June 1972 – Wacol Qld Assembly Plant opens. Considered to be the most modern truck plant in Australia and at the time, was the 2nd largest Volvo truck plant in the world !
487 trucks are sold in 1972
In 1973, the G89 - the most powerful Volvo truck so far is released. With its TD120 engine producing 243kW, the G89 extends the appeal of the Volvo truck range.
The N series conventional range is added in 1974 to the popular F model COEs. Available with 7, 10 and 12 litre engines, the N series was aimed at tipper and heavy haulage.
1977 – AB Volvo’s 50th anniversary. In Australia, the 5000th Australian assembled Volvo truck is delivered – to Mr Gorono from Eudlo, Qld.