Daimler execs provide market update, call for unified global emissions standards

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Updated Oct 31, 2013

During the 2013 American Trucking Associations Management Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Daimler Trucks North America President and CEO Martin Daum, and newly appointed CEO of Daimler Trucks Wolfgang Bernhard sat down with the trucking media for global and NAFTA market updates.

Bernhard, who replaced former Daimler Trucks CEO Andreas Renschler earlier this year, is continuing the truck maker’s global product strategy – thinking globally and acting locally – of tailoring products to the specific needs of customers around the world.

“There are global manufacturers, but there are no global customers,” said Bernhard. “To maintain global industry leadership we have to offer the right product for each customer in each marketplace. Their needs are very different from country to country and application to application.”

As an example, Bernhard said China –which now represents the largest truck market in the world – has more advanced trucks than the Indian market but there is little room for technology because price is a critical factor. The challenge is repeated in every industrialized and emerging market in the world, and Daimler Trucks says its product portfolio is nearly complete to help meet the needs of specific markets.

In his remarks, Bernhard also called on cooperation between North American and European governments on unifying emission and safety standards, pointing out that the standards are not wildly different and arguing that getting rid of small variations in the two standards could yield big savings and better simplification of business systems, creating a standard for the rest of the world.

“We all have to park our regulatory egos, and I am convinced that standardization would strengthen the competitiveness of both industrial areas substantially,” said Bernhard. “Strong growth in Asian markets will lead to a shift in the global economic power balance, hence NAFTA and the Western European nations have to close ranks.”

On the subject of emissions, Bernhard also pointed out that 60 percent of the current U.S. truck population uses EPA ’98 standards or earlier, and less than 10 percent of trucks on U.S. highways meet EPA 2010 emission standards. “Fast fleet renewal is key for improving air quality. You could reduce NOx by 60 percent and particulate matter by 99 percent by replacing all the older trucks,” says Bernhard.

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Turning attention to the global truck market and Daimler’s presence, Bernhard said group sales for Daimler Trucks worldwide are down 1 percent year-to-date through August, but incoming orders have increased 23 percent globally and 39 percent in the NAFTA market.

Bernhard said Daimler Trucks has the no. 1 market share in NAFTA and Europe with a 39 percent share of the NAFTA Class 6-8 market year-to-date through September (+5.4 percent), and 22.7 percent in Europe through July (+0.5 percent) for the medium- and heavy-duty truck.

Sales in Brazil (#2 market share) and Japan (#3 market share) dipped slightly by 2 percent and 0.8 percent respectively.


Bright future for the Cascadia Evolution

Speaking directly of the U.S. market, Bernhard said 60 percent of its sales come from DTNA’s 30 largest customers. “If we don’t understand what they need tomorrow they won’t need us the day after tomorrow,” he said. The company’s goal is to work closely with these fleets as partners to build and design better products, and Bernhard cited a recent effort with Saddle Creek Logistics to provide the natural gas truck customer with new CNG fuel tanks positioned behind the side and back of cab fairings that save 500 pounds.

The Cascadia Evolution remains at the forefront of DTNA’s North American market strategy. “The Cascadia Evolution is a hell of a truck,” said Bernhard, noting that DTNA has sold roughly 20,000 orders to date. “The centerpiece is the integrated powertrain with the DT12 transmission.” U.S. production of the DT12 will begin in 2015. The DT12 has been available with the DD15 engine since May, and last month it became available with the DD13 engine.

“When we start production in Detroit, I’m absolutely sure every single transmission built in Detroit will stay in the United States,” said Daum. Initially there was a thought the company might export some of the U.S.-made units to support production at the plant in Gaggenau, Germany, but Daum now says if anything, they’ll import transmissions from Germany to keep up with expected demand during the domestic production ramp up.