Navistar recommits to medium-duty truck market with ‘laser-like’ focus

Updated Sep 15, 2010

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As anyone in the truck industry knows, the race to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 diesel engine emissions regulations has been an all-consuming and contentious one for truck and engine manufacturers. And according to Jim Hebe, senior vice president of North American sales operations, the emissions battle has had unwanted consequences for Navistar, causing the company to take its eye off a market segment Hebe says it created and has owned since 1906: Medium-duty vocational trucks. And that’s a trend the company is determined to reverse.

But Navistar won’t simply be reaffirming its commitment to the medium-duty market. Hebe is calling for an all-out assault on Class 4, 5 and 6 truck markets and a full-scale “war” on competitors building trucks that compete with Navistar in those market segments. The goal, Hebe announced, is for Navistar – which currently holds a dominating 36 percent share of the medium-duty market, according to internal measurements – to reach 50 percent within the next couple of years. In order to facilitate reaching this goal, Navistar has extended the military theme down to a Medium-Duty “Boot Camp” the company is hosting in seven key cities across the country this fall.

The Boot Camp tour will educate almost 1,000 key Navistar dealer sales representatives on the finer points of working with buyers who, in Hebe’s words, “are not necessarily truck people.” Boot Camp participants were issued a thick three-ring binder complemented by in-depth presentations with a “laser-like” focus on a wide array of topics, including new insights into Navistar and competitive products as well as service and support after the sale. “We’re talking about buyers who don’t factor truck purchases into their yearly budgets,” Hebe notes. “They drive trucks until they die. And when they decide they absolutely have to purchase a new one, they’re going to make that decision in 48 hours, and they’re going to give a dealership three weeks – at most – to deliver that truck to them.”

In order to meet those time constraints, Hebe told dealers and sales representatives in the Denver audience they would have to be quicker, more nimble and more agile than their competitors. And Navistar is dedicated to giving its dealers the products they’ll need in order to reach that goal, Hebe adds. These include a new 300 hp MaxxForce 7 V8 diesel engine with 660 lb.-ft. of torque, the new TerraStar Class 4 and 5 vocational trucks that will begin appearing on Navistar dealer lots this fall, and the tried-and-tested DuraStar, which Hebe says is still “far and away the most durable, dependable and customer-friendly medium-duty truck in the industry.” In addition, a new natural-gas engine based on Navistar’s DT-7 V8 diesel will be launched next year in WorkStar vocational trucks. “We build this engine ourselves,” Hebe added. “It is the only other natural gas engine available today besides the Cummins ISL-G – and that’s too big for medium duty and too sDsc 0465mall for heavy duty.”

Hebe also stressed Navistar’s exhaust gas recirculation-only solution to 2010 EPA emissions regulations as another key advantage for dealers and sales representatives. “Green is a constant now, instead of a cause,” he asserts. “And who has a greener product line than Navistar? We are already the leader in hybrids and all-electric trucks. And EGR is far and away the greenest NOx solution available today.”