Thursday, March 25, 2010

Freightliner: Light at the end of tunnel

At the Freightliner -- Daimler Trucks North America -- press conference this a.m. in Louisville, Andreas Renschler began his comments to the media by talking about the weather. Renschler, head of Daimler trucks and buses, said he felt like 2009 was one major blizzard. "By now, with the fog lifting, we can finally get a clearer view of the state of our industry."

Renschler reported that Daimler came out of 2009 with its share of bumps and bruises and results reflected what happens when virtually "all markets collapse" worldwide, simultaneously. He sees market recovery "moderate" in the U.S., about 10 to 15 percent. He says it will be years before the truck markets have fully recovered, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Martin Daum, President and CEO of DTNA, is ten months into his new job at the helm of DTNA but he's been 23 years with the commercial vehicles. Daum says the industry won't see truck sales like those the industry experienced in 2005 and 2006 anytime in the foreseeable future. His tea leaves say truck sales will increase 13 percent over 2009 with an additional "year-over-year" increase of 33 percent in 2011.

Renschler was optimistic that DTNA's countermeasures would be effective. In fact, he announced that coming out of the worst economic crisis in post-war era, DTNA would be launching the biggest "product offense" in the company's history. New vehicles, new components are rolling out, including the new Coronado ST with EPA 10 compliant engine.

Senior Vice-President Sales and Marketing Mark Lampert asked the rhetorical question: where do our ideas come from? The answer, he said, lies in recognizing the truckers "who brought us to the dance" in the first place -- "a very important group of buyers in the North American trucking industry, the owner-operators."

Lampert said DNTA's commitment to "best in class" vehicles begins with the owner-operator. "We know their truck is often their home and their business." He said the new Coronado is custom-made for the owner-operator.

Lampert had some good news for Western Star lovers. Lampert announced that "while remaining true to its purpose-built roots," Western Star will be expanded. Plans call for the introduction of more fuel efficient models as well as interior enhancements that will all the Western Star to "seriously compete" in both over-the-road and severe duty segments. And Lampert said those plans led DNTA to the Freightliner Allison Optimized Western Star with DD16 engines and BlueTec emissions system.

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