Daimler Trucks North America wants to expand its export business, such as this Australian Argosy.

Daimler Trucks North America wants to expand its export business, such as this Australian Argosy.

Daimler Trucks North America outlined a number of milestones and achievements it accomplished over the past year, including being the market leader in Class 6 and 7 for the first time ever, completing Phase One of the SuperTruck program, and announcing a new international export goal. This announcement was made during an event for North American trade press this week in Cabos San Lucas, Mexico.

Market Share

Gaining the top market share position in NAFTA Class 6 and Class 7 was "probably the achievement we're most proud of in 2012," said Mark Lampert, senior vice president, sales and marketing for DTNA. Freightliner, Freightliner Custom Chassis and Thomas Built Bus combined for a 36.9% market share, he said, while Navistar dropped to 34.7%.

Just looking at U.S. sales, he said, Freightliner was also on the top with 37.7% share.

Lampert acknowledged that Navistar's recent struggles accounted for part of the switch, but also credited Freightliner's vocational/medium-duty initiative it announced two years ago.

Looking at the Class 6-8 NAFTA marketplace, last year saw 344,227 trucks sold, and DTNA is expecting around the same number for this year. Freightliner had 111,932 of those last year, and its goal is to grow its market share in 2013.

"Our forecast for 2013 is January's going to be the toughest quarter, and we will work our way up so where it's within 10% up or down of the 2012 marketplace," Lampert said. "It is far from dead out there. We're not saying it's strong, but there's a pretty good level of orders and quoting activity."

Lampert said DTNA "hit it out of the park" when it comes to Class 8 January truck sales, with 44.6% market share for Freightliner trucks. The nearest competitor was International with 14.9%, followed by Peterbilt with 12%, Kenworth 11.7%, Volvo 7.9%, Mack 6.5%, and Western Star 2.4%.

"We generally outperform the market in the first part of the year, but this is higher than we thought it would be," he said.

Freightliner also had a stellar month in medium-duty; in U.S. Class 6-7, DTNA almost hit 50% market share in January with 48.7%. Navistar International was a distant second at 24.4%.

Why has Freightliner been so successful? Lampert credited excellent products and a lower total cost of ownership.

"We feel for the first time in our history, if you look at all the segments we participated in across North America, we have a superior product in every one of those segments, and honestly we couldn’t say that before." 

Fuel Economy and Vehicle Integration

Much of the work Freightliner is doing for the DOE's SuperTruck program has already found its way into the fuel-saving Cascadia Evolution package.

Much of the work Freightliner is doing for the DOE's SuperTruck program has already found its way into the fuel-saving Cascadia Evolution package.

Another major development last year was the expansion of the Detroit brand from simply an engine to include axles and the new DT12 automated manual transmission. This allows for an integrated drivetrain that can be tuned for maximum fuel efficiency.

"We are intentionally calling it vehicle integration, not vertical integration," said David Hames, general manager of marketing and strategy for DTNA. "There's a lot more to this when it comes down to customer value."

That integration, he said, also will help DTNA to hit the next round of greenhouse gas emissions/fuel economy regulations due in 2018.

That integrated drivetrain is a key factor in Freightliner's new Cascadia Evolution package, which bundles together a number of aerodynamic and efficiency improvements in the cab/chasses and drivetrain. An extensive customer demonstration unit program, 100 units, has shown customers are getting the promised 5% fuel efficiency improvement and more, even on trucks that aren't fully broken in yet.

Those results, DTNA officials said, are driving demand for the Evolution, with 9,300 Evolutions sold (built or on backlog). The Cascadia Evolution went into product about a month ago, on Jan. 21.

SuperTruck program

DTNA announced that it has completed Phase One of its SuperTruck program. In this initial phase – which marks the halfway point of the program – DTNA has validated a 25% freight efficiency improvement in real world testing conditions.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, DTNA and other project partners, including national labs, universities and suppliers, are examining opportunities that significantly improve freight efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of Class 8 trucks.

DTNA is focusing on a multitude of areas that impact freight efficiency, including aerodynamics, powertrain integration, weight reduction, energy management, reduction of parasitic losses, electrification of components, and hybridization.

To date, the program has worked through development and testing phases from computer modeling to component bench testing, and most recently, in vehicle validation.

Many of the concepts developed with the SuperTruck, such as an integrated powertrain, 6x2 optimization and enhanced aerodynamics have already been transferred to the market through recent introductions such as the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution, which delivers top fuel economy performance. 

New export goals

Daimler Trucks North America launched a new international market growth strategy it's calling Vision 15,000. The approach brings recently launched internationally focused DTNA products to new markets in the Middle East and Africa, and extends existing regional programs in Australia, Latin America and South Africa.

Vision 15,000 calls for an increase in the company’s international sales (outside of NAFTA) to a level of 15,000 units. DTNA already exports approximately 10,000 vehicles annually.

DTNA’s largest current international markets include Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Peru and Colombia. Freightliner- and Western Star-brand trucks are also sold in numerous countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific regions. In each of these areas, DTNA is enhancing its distribution network and brands to prepare for further growth.

In addition, the company is eyeing further market entries in Asia and Africa where Freightliner and Western Star vehicles fit local operating requirements.

For instance, The company has launched the Freightliner Coronado 114 for the Australia market, where previously it only had a cabover presence with the Argosy. The Argosy has been introduced in a new version with bold styling, and is now being sold in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Expansion of the Team Run Smart program

Freightliner has named five drivers to its Team Run Smart Pros program.

Team Run Smart (www.TeamRunSmart.com) is an open online community offering a wealth of industry resources. The Run Smart Pros program gives select owner-operators the opportunity to drive a Freightliner Cascadia truck equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine in exchange for blogging about the vehicles as well as offering tips to other drivers on topics from keeping operating costs low to staying healthier on the road.

The drivers are Henry Albert, Linda Caffee, Jeff Clark, Jimmy Nevarez and Joey Slaughter.

Freightliner Trucks accepted applications from professional drivers to become Team Run Smart Pros, and selected the drivers who had distinguished themselves as industry experts.