Global product range and continued investment in future growth
1998 saw Scania complete its changeover to the 4-series trucks and buses. About half a billion Swedish kronor was invested in the European sales and service network in order to boost operations on the established markets and reinforce the company's position on the growing central and eastern European markets. In addition, 1998 saw the unveiling of a number of new products aimed at improving operating economy, comfort and safety.
Scania completed its global changeover to the 4-series in autumn 1998, marked by production start of the new generation of tourist coaches in Latin America. The changeover in European truck production was launched in autumn 1995 and was completed during the second half of 1996. In 1997, it was time for the European bus range to switch over, while Latin America saw production start of the 4-series trucks and city and intercity buses in the first half of 1998.
By creating a common product range the world over, Scania will be able to draw even greater benefit from economies of scale in the supplier network and increase its flexibility and thus its ability to deal with worldwide market fluctuations. This global product platform also means that new technical features can be introduced simultaneously on all markets where Scania operates.
Investment in the sales and service network continued. Investments in 1998 totalled about 500 million kronor, mostly on the significant German and French markets. Scania is restructuring its organisation here, creating larger and stronger dealerships located at strategic logistical sites and fielding the expertise needed to offer an extended range of efficiency-enhancing services.
In Great Britain, Scania has met with considerable success by offering customers a range of transport services via its Vehicle Management package, which includes such services as finance, maintenance and administration of truck fleets. This package has now been introduced in Germany, France and other countries.
Scania has continued to expand its sales and service network on the growing markets of central and eastern Europe. Among the major developments in 1998 are the establishment of wholly owned importer operations in Hungary, Croatia, the Ukraine and Lithuania.
In addition, 1998 started off with negotiations on the acquisition of Italian importer Italscandia Autocarri SpA, a deal which was recently finalised and which gives Scania all the shares in the company.
Good operating economy and high driver comfort are two of Scania's strongest areas. 1998 saw the introduction of 11 and 12 litre unit injector engines, with features that promote even better driveability and fuel economy. In the area of driver comfort, a new cab interior was launched – the single-driver concept – to meet changing driving and usage patterns but also in response to demands for new in-cab functions.