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Daimler Looks To Green Future

September 24, 2008

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At an international press briefing ahead of the IAA commercial vehicle show in Hannover this week, Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler Truck and Bus, said the Daimler division has reported the best earnings result in its history.
Orders are 3 percent higher than in the same period last year and the firm's Sprinter van sales are setting new records worldwide, offsetting declines in the U.S. and Europe.

In the company's cabover heavy truck segment, there's a facelifted Actros debuting at the show. Actros leads its market segment with half a million sold since its introduction and is the top selling heavy truck in the Western European market. Fuel efficiency is a key deliverable, demonstrated recently in a test-track demonstration where an Actros tractor at 40 tonne (88,000 pound) GCWR hit less than 20l/100Km (11.7 mpg), with the new model stretching maintenance intervals to nearly 100,000 miles.

The European sales picture is confused, with some markets declining and others holding firm, but Daimler expects the market to drop back to near normal levels over the next year. Renschler was bullish about short and long-term prospects for the world's biggest truck maker.

In the first press conference of a busy event schedule during the show, Renschler again returned to the long-term prospects for commercial vehicle manufacturers worldwide: "The world will still need trucks and buses even after internal combustion engines are a thing of the past," he said Tuesday. He anticipates hybrid power systems, electricity and hydrogen power will become the technologies post 2020. Daimler Trucks - which include Freightliner, Sterling and Western Star in North America -- already has 7,000 trucks with these technologies on a range of trials around the world under the many Daimler truck, bus and van brands. Renschler says these investments in futire technologies will position Daimler well to realize dividends in the future.

Referring to these, Georg Weiberg, head of product engineering for the commercial vehicle arm of the German giant "We can already cut fuel consumption by 30 percent."

Like all truck manufacturing exhibitors at Hanover, Daimler had a major part of its display devoted to hybrids and alternative-fueled vehicles. Two interesting exhibits boasting the three-pointed star were an Econic low cab forward chassis suitable for distribution and refuse with a natural gas/hybrid drive, and an Axor 88,000-pound GCWR cabover highway tractor, featuring Eaton's parallel hybrid drive package. The latter is claimed good for 4 percent to 10 percent savings even in over-the-road applications not usually associated with hybrid technologies.

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