SAN DIEGO – Daimler Trucks North America expects steady growth in truck sales over the next couple of years, projecting this year will end up with 374,000 Class 6-8 units sold in North America and 411,000 for 2015 – and it's getting ready to ramp up its production to accommodate.

The bulk of that growth is expected to be in Class 8, where orders are currently so strong that production of those orders will roll over into the first quarter of 2015, explained DTNA President and CEO Martin Daum to journalists attending the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exhibition.

DTNA's goal is to continue to grow its market share in that growing market. It ended 2013 at 38.2% of the U.S. Class 8 market, but as of August this year is down slightly to 37.1%. The market share is even stronger in U.S. Class 6-7, which ended 2013 at 44.1% but is down a bit to 42% so far this year.

"It appears our competitors did a great job too, which I applaud and appreciate," he said. "Our customers are benefitting as everyone steps up their game."

Nevertheless, he said, the company's goal for the next year is to grow that market share further – something he emphasized must be earned.

Fuel efficiency is expected to continue to help drive that growth. Compared to a 2010 baseline of a Freightliner Cascadia, fuel efficiency improvements have increased fuel economy by 12 percent for 2015 models.

The new Detroit DT12 automated transmission integrated into a fuel-saving Detroit integrated powertrain is one of the keys to that improvement, and company officials said the success of the transmission has exceeded even their own optimistic expectations.

DTNA projects sales for Detroit transmissions next year of 25,000. "I would say this is conservative, I would say 30,000," Daum said. "We invest in Detroit for 57,000 automated transmissions in 2017, and that may not be enough. Who would ever have thought that would happen?"

Daum emphasized that DTNA will not rest on its laurels, will be humble and continue to develop products based on what customers need. It has invested $3.8 billion over the last 10 years in vehicle and powertrain development, and is upping that level to $550 million per year going forward.