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Daimler Trucks Outlines Zonar Role in Aftermarket Strategy

July 29, 2015

By David Cullen

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DTNA's Friedrich Baumann: "Our goal is to elevate what we have already done" in the aftermarket. Photo: Daimler
DTNA's Friedrich Baumann: "Our goal is to elevate what we have already done" in the aftermarket. Photo: Daimler

YOUNTVILLE, CALIF. Daimler Trucks North America is “raising the bar by aiming to provide an unmatched customer experience within our service network,” said Friedrich Baumann, senior vice president, aftermarket, in laying out the strategic vision driving the OEM’s aftermarket effort at a July 28 media briefing here.

Baumann explained that the maker of Freightliner and Western Star trucks is “striving for market leadership” in customer satisfaction by investing in aftermarket services. “Our goal is to elevate what we have already done,” he said, by offering “a suite of solutions that anticipates, personalizes and transforms customer experience.”

He said it is the "integration of best-in-class back-counter parts availability, service quality, customer communication, business relationships and enhanced telematics.... which will make the difference for our customers.”

A key element of DTNA’s aftermarket strategy is greater collaboration with Zonar Systems, the technology firm that it acquired a minority stake in late last month as part of a long-term strategic partnership.

The two companies have partnered for more than five years, including launching the Virtual Technician remote-diagnostics system in 2011. Executives with both companies emphasized that DTNA and Zonar will continue to operate as separate business entities, but will co-develop new products for DTNA’s customers.

Underscoring the deeper relationship, DTNA announced that it will transition the branding of its Visibility Fleet Software and On-Board Tablet within its Detroit Connect product suite to Zonar.

With that change, Visibility will take on Zonar’s Ground Traffic Control fleet-tracking application product name, and the Tablet will be re-branded as the Zonar 2020 tablet. No changes in product capabilities or pricing for current Visibility and Tablet customers will take place.

On the other hand, the Detroit Virtual Technician on-board diagnostic system will maintain the same branding and continue to be marketed under the Detroit Connect portfolio umbrella.

The new business arrangement also calls for Zonar to assume management of all Virtual Technician subscriptions, including the renewal process, on Detroit Connect’s behalf beginning later this year.

“There’s a significant opportunity to gain important insights through connectivity to ultimately provide a more dynamic customer experience,” said Matthew Pfaffenbach, director of telematics for DTNA. “Our arrangement with Zonar ultimately strengthens our telematics capabilities.”

A brief preview was provided of a new “customer-facing” web portal for Virtual Technician that is slated to launch later this year.

According to DTNA, the portal will be designed to enable customers to drill down into specific diagnostic faults or the fault history across vehicles within their own operation to attain a “fleet health view.”

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