Touted as Daimler Trucks North America's premium brand, Western Star nicely complements offerings from its larger brother, Freightliner, said Mike Jackson, the junior division's general manager. The two companies have somewhat different customer bodies. About 64% of Western Star sales go to small fleets; 52% of Freightliner's sales are to large fleets.
Western Star originated in 1967 in western Canada to serve loggers, Jackson said, and following the brand's acquisition by Daimler in 2000, they have been custom built only at DTNA's plant in Portland, Ore. It remains popular in Canada with a 7% market share, but is a small player in the United States with a 1% to 1.5% share.
Like the previously launched 4700 trucks, the 4700 regional tractor comes with a choice of three diesels - Cummins' ISC and ISL , and Detroit's DD13 - and with set-forward and set-back steer axles for a variety of applications. The 4700 is Western Star's fourth series of vehicles, joining the heavier 4800 and 4900 and the off-road 6900, which use larger Detroit and Cummins engines.
The company introduced the 4700 in March 2011, "a little bit early," Jackson explained, "to get it out there and to get some attention" for the overall brand. Production of the 4700 began in December.
The reviving economy and a marketing push have resulted in enough orders that production is sold out into July, and the company recently added a second shift to try to keep up. Ruggedness and durability cause them to rate high in customer surveys against other premium competitors, he said.
The 4700 shares the same roomy cab with the heavier models; the cabs are made of steel that's galvanealed - dipped in zinc for galvanizing, then baked so the zinc settles into the steel's surface.
Much attention was given to make the cabs quiet and rattle-free, something that stood out in brief test drives offered to qualified reporters at and around the Las Vegas Speedway north of the city. Test drive articles on truck and tractor versions will follow later on TruckingInfo.com and in Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.
New Western Star 4700 Series Aimed at Vocational, Municipal Customers, 3/8/2011
DTNA Revitalizing Western Star Brand, Looking to Double Market Share, 2/16/2011