Volvo Group has started to use 5.1-litre and 7.7-litre diesel engines derived from the group’s wholly-owned Japanese division UD Trucks.
The engines will be used in Volvo buses and coaches as well as in Volvo and Renault commercial vehicles.
Interestingly, the Japanese-derived engines have an Indian connection. Volvo's Indian dimension stems from its joint venture (JV) with Eicher Motors, known as VE Commercial Vehicles (VECV). The JV started five years ago and is wholly Volvo owned.
The grey iron cylinder blocks and heads for the engines are not only cast in India but machined at a new "state-of-the-art" VE powertrain plant at Pithampur, Madhya Pradesh. The facility started operations in July. http://www.vecv.in/
The engine facility is a hub which has been designed to meet the global medium-duty automotive engine requirements of Volvo Group for 5-litre and 8-litre engines.
The Euro 6-compliant base diesel engines are supplied to Volvo Group's plant in Venissieux, France where they are assembled to meet Volvo Group Euro 6 requirements.
The same engine platform will be adapted to Euro 3 and 4 engine (BS3/BS4) technologies to meet the VECV requirements and other Volvo Group requirements for this type of engine in Asia.
The engine plant in France carries out final assembly of the base 5.1-litre and 7.7-litre engines from India. It also carries out complete manufacturing of Volvo Group 11-litre engines.
Final assembly of the base engines from India mainly takes the form of adding fuel injection equipment, turbochargers and exhaust after-treatment.
The differences between Japan's, Europe's and North America's exhaust emissions test cycles is likely to call for this and helps explain why Volvo Group and other engine-makers are working as hard as they can to get these standards globally harmonised.
UD Trucks has been 100 per cent owned by Volvo Group since February 2007. Formerly known as Nissan Diesel, the company changed its name to UD Trucks on February 1, 2010. However, before the name change, the UD name was prominently displayed to separate the identity from that of the company’s former owner, Nissan Motors.
The UD name was originally used for the company's Uniflow diesel engine (known as the two-stroke engine), developed in 1955, but UD is now marketed as meaning Ultimate Dependability.
The 5.1 and 7.7 litre engines from India were designed initially by Nissan Diesel.
Volvo Group has invested heavily in its Indian plant. The initial capacity is put at 25,000 units a year although at present it is making over 3,000 a month, suggesting well over 30,000 a year. The eventual capacity is claimed to be 100,000 units a year.
Volvo’s reason for investing so heavily in its Indian engine assembly plant is most likely that it forms part of the company’s ‘grand global manufacturing plan’. Volvo has invested heavily too in the Renault cab plant in Blainville.
India's relative proximity to Japan, where the two engines were conceived, may have played a part in this. Certainly, the huge potential of the Indian commercial vehicle market could have been in the mind of the Volvo’s top brass as they evolved their global strategy planning. ∎
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