Volkswagen Group has announced that its commercial vehicle subsidiary, Volkswagen Truck & Bus – which comprises the Scania and MAN truck brands, as well as South American operation Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus and the RIO telematics platform – is being rebranded as Traton Group.
Andreas Renschler, the chief executive officer of Volkswagen Truck & Bus and a Volkswagen Group director, has called the move a “milestone” on the road to increased independence and “capital market readiness”.
The new name Traton – which is an umbrella brand and will not replace the Scania and MAN marques on the front of trucks – took effect at the end of August. The rebrand has fuelled speculation that Volkswagen Group is preparing to officially announce the future flotation of its commercial vehicle division at the IAA in Hannover this month.
Said Renschler: “The new name Traton is a major milestone on our road to become global champion of the transportation industry. Since our foundation, we have grown together faster than expected. Traton provides us with more independence.
“It will further strengthen our group’s joint identity and uniqueness. The new name will also foster our visibility as the leading group for innovative transportation solutions. It will increase our attractiveness for new talents as well as for capital markets.”
The final sentence of Renschler’s statement appears to indicate an intention by VW to float Traton. VW had previously said it would consider listing or partially listing its truck and bus subsidiary. It had discounted the possibility of such a listing occurring this year, but some media reports have suggested a 2019 flotation could be on the cards.
In the wake of the Dieselgate scandal, the Volkswagen Group – which includes not just Audi, Škoda and SEAT, but also Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche, plus motorcycle manufacturer Ducati – has been perceived in some quarters as being just too big and diverse. VW’s own capital resources have been stretched by Dieselgate.
Bundling VW’s commercial brands together for sale could work out well for the truck manufacturers concerned. Industry historians will recount how Leyland was a successful company as a truck and bus manufacturer, but was dragged down by the BMC family of car brands when it became British Leyland.
As an independent entity, Traton could raise further capital, which may enable it to take a greater stake in the North American truck and bus manufacturer Navistar.
VW Truck & Bus and Navistar signed a strategic alliance last year, in which VW took a stake in Navistar and the two parties agreed to a procurement joint venture, and strategic technology and supply collaboration.
Within the current Traton brands, greater integration between MAN and Scania can be expected. The launch of Scania’s new generation of trucks was hugely successful, but has since been tarnished by problems in the supply chain for its flagship V8 engines. In the UK at least, Scania reps have had the unenviable task of down-selling V8 customers to straight-sixes.
Meanwhile, the recent appointment of mergers and acquisitions specialist Christian Schulz as head of finance at the company could suggest that Traton is preparing for the possibility of seeking other truck manufacturers as potential partners.
Possible candidates may include Iveco, and Ford’s Turkish-based heavy-truck operation. An alliance with Ford is reportedly already being explored.