By Pierre Tran
Paris – Arquus, a builder of light and medium armored vehicles, expects to increase 2020 sales by 10 percent, down from a 38 percent rise in 2019, said chairman and chief executive Emmanuel Levacher.
That “ballistic” trajectory of a forecast dip in sales offers an “opportunity to stabilize activities,” after a sales increase of 72.5 percent over the last two years, he told a news conference.
Arquus built 2,200 vehicles last year, up 47 percent from a year ago, calling 2019 a record year for the company.
The company expects to hit its profit target this year, he said.
Arquus does not publish sales or profit figures, which are reported by the parent company, Volvo, a Swedish truck maker.
Last year’s sales for Arquus were worth some €600 million ($652 million), an industry source said.
Arquus consists of the French brands Acmat, Panhard and Renault Trucks Defense and was formed after the 2018 reorganization of Volvo Group Governmental Sales, a unit of the Volvo company.
Arquus last year booked orders worth €750 million, stable on the previous year. When options of orders in the French Army’s Scorpion modernization program are included, the figure rises to €1.2 billion.
The latter amount gives a book-to-bill, or orders to sales, ratio of 1.
Arquus will receive €240 million in the Belgian order for French armored vehicles in the motorized capability program dubbed Camo, he said.
That Belgian order, worth €1.1 billion, is a government-to-government deal drawing on the Jaguar combat and reconnaissance vehicle and Griffon multi-role troop carrier being built under the French army’s Scorpion modernization program.
Arquus receives 40 percent of value for its work on the Griffon, and some five to 10 percent on the Jaguar, he said. The smaller amount on the latter reflects the high amount spent on weapons on the combat vehicle.
Arquus works with Nexter and Thales in a partnership on the Scorpion program, with the former supplying the remote-controlled machine gun and driveline on the Jaguar.
One of Arquus’s efforts to boost orders lies in a US licensing agreement for its Bastion troop transport, signed with AM General, the company which builds the humvee vehicle, he said.
That license allows AM General to offer the Bastion in prospective export deals, when the US government buys equipment and sells to client nations under foreign military sales rules.
The success of that license deal requires AM General to win the competition, he said.
Arquus is working on a technology demonstrator dubbed Scarabée, a vehicle which carries the company’s hopes to be the French army’s replacement for the véhicule blindé leger (VBL), a scout car.
There are also expectations of export sales on the Scarabée, which will be commercially launched at the Eurosatory trade show for land weapons, which runs June 8-12. The potential clients are those nations which operate the VBL.
The planned VBL replacement is named véhicule blindé d’aide à l’engagement (VBAE), and is in a later phase of the Scorpion program. The present military budget law, which runs to 2025, does not include funding for development and production of the VBAE.