The History of Scania


Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft paved the way for the strategic restructuring and expansion of its truck business in April 2000 when it acquired 18.7 percent of the shares and 34 percent of the voting rights in Scania AB. The two companies were linked by a long-standing partnership. Scania had been Volkswagen’s main importer in Sweden since 1948. And that was not the only consideration favouring a tie-up with the internationally renowned brand. Scania was one of the top truck manufacturers in Europe, and was regarded as the most profitable brand in the industry. Innovative, and a leader in the development of economical, low-emission engines, the company’s product range included heavy trucks of 16 tonnes capacity and more, buses and coaches, as well as ship engines and industrial motors.


Scania’s creation had in fact originally also stemmed from the merger of two businesses, both of whom were among the pioneers of Swedish truck-making. The older of the two, Vagnfabriks-Aktiebolaget i Södertelge (Vabis), founded on December 11, 1891 in Södertälje, initially built wagons for the expanding rail network. In 1897, the “Vagnfabrik” (wagon factory) began making vehicles and engines, and presented its first truck at the Stockholm Automobile Exhibition of 1903. Declining demand and falling prices in the railway wagon business on the one hand and the capital invested to build a new factory on the other meant that the business made a loss for a number of years. More commercial success was enjoyed by the other predecessor business, the existing Malmö-based subsidiary of Maskinfabriksaktiebolaget Scania, which in 1902/03 launched an initial series of five vehicles onto the market under the model name Scania Type A. Instead of making costly new components, Scania’s vehicle production used components from other manufacturers, including from Germany, and its business was prospering. While in 1910 Scania was sounding out the possibilities for expanding its production, the Vabis parent company in Södertälje had decided to dispose of its capitalintensive automotive division.


Even at that time, the successes in truck-building were linked closely to the innovations being made in engine development, which led to the opening of a new business field. A first six-cylinder petrol engine in 1923 established a new product line in industrial and marine engines. A few years later, Scania-Vabis launched an engine range which could run on different fuels and created the basis for the later modular construction method. Scania-Vabis made its biggest leap in engine development with the so-called Hesselmann engine. Built under licence starting in 1932, it became the starting point for the design of an in-house diesel engine. The compact six-cylinder pre-chamber diesel engine with a 7.7 litre capacity and developing 120 horsepower, capable of running on petrol, raw oil or diesel oil, was fitted in the company’s buses and trucks from 1936 onwards, and was also sold to other Swedish and international manufacturers. Most Scania-Vabis vehicles were still one-offs. Only as production began to rise during the mid1930s was extensive rationalisation instigated, entailing the introduction of new tools and working methods. In its engine business, from 1939/40 the company progressed to building standardised units with largely identical components. At the same time, it expanded production capacities by building two factories. The Second World War focused operations on the production of military vehicles. By 1943, they were taking up all the company’s capacity, and by 1945 the workforce had increased to around 1,000.


The business was boosted not only by the technical advances but also by the operational innovations introduced in 1949: The “conference method” involved all designers in product development decision-making, the “component philosophy” promoted the standardisation of products, while group working on the assembly lines improved productivity. It was on this basis that Scania-Vabis grew into an export-oriented business. It opened up 17 new export markets during the 1950s alone. International business became the driver of growth. By 1959, vehicle production had increased to 4,881, more than half of which were exported. The most profit on the company’s home market during this period, however, came from sales of the Volkswagen saloon. They acted as a catalyst in growing the dealer network, and generated much of the financial resources for the strong expansion of the business during the 1960s. The subsidiary in Brazil founded in 1957 built Scania-Vabis’s first production facility outside of Sweden in 1962. In 1964, assembly began at the new plant at Zwolle in the Netherlands. The factory at Meppel – likewise in the Netherlands – and the Swedish plants at Oskarshamn and Katrineholm were added by way of acquisition in 1966/67. Scania-Vabis also created the foundations for further growth by expanding the mother plant in Södertälje and constructing new factories in Sweden.


The new Volkswagen Group brand is proving to be a good investment not merely by virtue of its innovative strength. Scania’s approximately 73,800 truck and bus sales in 2008 were almost on a par with the previous year’s record level. Demand collapsed in the wake of the financial crisis in 2009. Sales declined to 43,443 units, as a result of which production and costs had to be adjusted by reductions in working hours, employee training, and postponement of capital investments. International markets have been f luctuating ever since. In 2011, sales grew by 84.4 percent to 80,108 units, but then fell back again by 16 percent to 67,000 in 2012. Deliveries of 82,208 units in 2014 were slightly down against the previous year's level. The company employed 35,925 people. 

Scania is recognised as being highly profitable, and in 2014 generated sales revenues of 10.3 billion euro and an operating profit of 955 million euro. Its commercial success is founded on innovative products such as the V8 truck series launched in 2010 which, with power output of up to 730 hp and maximum torque of 3,500 Nm, is the most powerful in the world. The Euro 6-compliant generation of engines launched in 2011 combines technical solutions for cutting emissions with supreme fuel efficiency. With the integration of Scania, the Volkswagen Group has refocused its heavy commercial vehicles business. The jewel in the crown of Swedish industry can look forward to a brilliant future.

The specified fuel consumption and emission data does not refer to a single vehicle and is not part of the offer but is only intended for comparison between different types of vehicles. Additional equipment and accessories (additional components, tyre formats, etc.) can alter relevant vehicle parameters such as weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics, affecting the vehicle's fuel consumption, power consumption, CO2 emissions and driving performance values in addition to weather and traffic conditions and individual driving behavior. Further information on official fuel consumption data and official specific CO2 emissions for new passenger cars can be found in the "Guide to fuel economy, CO2 emissions and power consumption for new passenger car models", which is available free of charge from all sales dealerships and from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, D-73760 Ostfildern, Germany and at