LAS VEGAS -- In a press briefing during the American Trucking Associations' Management and Exhibition Conference in Las Vegas, Daimler truck executives expressed optimism for the future of truck orders, noting the company is leading in market share in the U.S.
"Now, Vegas is full of people who claim to have a 'fool-proof system that will make them rich overnight," said Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler Commercial Vehicles. "We at Daimler Trucks do not belong in this group. We build on our more than 100 years of solid experience in the truck business. And we stick to our long-term strategy. It's called Global Excellence - and it is directing us toward sustainable success."
Acknowledging that incoming orders have softened a bit lately, Renschler said, "We also have good reason to be confident. August looked better than july and I hear this trend is continuing in September.
"From what I can see now, things are looking good. They are not that we are living in paradise, but they are at least looking good. We at Daimler have learned to mange the cycle, not only in NAFTA but around the world."
In fact, he said, thanks to the high flexibility it now has in its production network, DTNA was the only North American manufacturer without layoffs or major production adjustments through the first three quarters of 2012, Renschler said.
There will be a limited number of shutdown days at DTNA sites this month, and the company will adjust production schedules to recent market developments, such as unstable demand, higher diesel prices and a slower overall economy.
"But when customers demand more of our products, we will be ready."
Renschler noted that Daimler Trucks North America's growth is outpacing the market's - sales went up by almost a third compared to last year.
"But even more important is market share, and we are proud to say Daimler trucks leads the market in the U.S. in the Class 6 to 8 segment."
Medium-Duty Market Share
Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, was happy to detail how its market share has improved, especially in medium-duty.
As of August, he said, the company had 33.3% market share in U.S. Class 8 trucks, up 1.6% from last year's 31.7%. In comparision, he said, Navistar dropped by 1.9%, from 21% to 19%.
"The big news for us is medium duty," Daum said. DTNA's U.S. market share of 27.1% of the Class 6-7 market in the U.S. "absolutely surprised us. I never would have dreamt two or three years ago we would take away the market lead from Navistar."
DTNA's medium-duty numbers are 37.1% market share, according to Daum, up 2.1% from 35% last year. Navistar, in comparison, is down 2.2% from last year, from 38.8% to 36.5%.
Renschler also spoke about Detroit Diesel's move into the world beyond engines; it's now offering a Detroit axle and soon will have the new Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission available in the U.S.
"Our target is clear: We want to be the leader in North America and worldwide for powertrain and vehicle integration - to give our customers the greatest fuel-efficiency, highest quality and lowest cost of ownership in the industry," Renschler said -- although he noted that of course the company would still have strong partners in component makers such as Eaton, Meritor and Cummins.
Globally, Daimler Trucks aims to sell 500,000 units in 2013, more than 500,000 units in 2015, and 700,000 units in 2020.
The Next Level
"We are taking things to the next level," Renschler said. "Our headline for this is 'Daimler Trucks Number One.'"
One important lever for the success of 'DT#1' is commonality, he said, of various parts and components across truck platforms around the world.
Repeating much of what he said during the IAA show in Hanover, Germany, last month, Renschler reinforced the idea of "as global as possible and as local as necessary."
This approach, he said, brings a broad range of advantages, including more flexibility in manufacturing, less complexity in Daimler's supplier base, faster time-to-market, higher quality, and the type of innovations you couldn't do with a lower volume.