Volvo forecasts steep drop in European truck demand

The head of Swedish truck maker Volvo said Tuesday that European sales would drop 40 percent in 2009, but that demand elsewhere is expected to pick up before year’s end.

“We believe in a stronger second half of the year,” chief executive Leif Johansson told Dow Jones Newswires on Tuesday.

He believes 180,000-200,000 trucks will be sold in Europe this year, down from 318,700 units in 2008.

His comments came the same day as Volvo reported that its truck deliveries in February fell 51 percent globally and 63 percent in Europe from a year earlier.

“It’s an incredibly weak start to the year,” he said, blaming the credit crisis for the decline.

“It’s still difficult for our customers, and their customers, to get financing for products,” he said. “It’s the frozen-up financial system that’s hurting us so bad.”