Daimler Trucks North America plans to lay off more than 900 people at its Freightliner plant in North Carolina, according to published reports, an action expected to be temporary as the company adjusts to expectations of a softer year for truck sales.
The company is cutting production at its Cleveland Truck Manufacturing plant by a third “in anticipation of a softer North American truck market in 2016, which will be somewhat below the very strong market of 2015,” spokesman David Giroux said in a statement, as reported by the Charlotte Observer.
The move is a response to a “sustained reduction in orders and a diminished build rate and is considered temporary.” The plant makes heavy-duty Freightliner and Western Star trucks.
The news follows last month’s announcements that Volvo Trucks was laying off employees at its assembly and powertrain plants.
Class 8 inventories hit an all-time record high last fall, pointing to a cooling off of the market, according to FTR Associates, industry analysts and forecasters.
Demand was boosted by record fourth-quarter orders in 2014. "This resulted in tremendous order backlogs and as a result, OEMs greatly increasing production rates in 2015,” explained FTR’s Jonathan Starks. “Unfortunately, retail sales got off to a slow start and never really got caught up with the number of trucks being built.”
Retail sales are not expected to be strong in the first quarter of 2016, Starks said, leading to the cuts in production.