Determined to ensure its customers can meet the challenges they face operating in Mexico, Daimler is working to help “influence them to turn into performance-seekers” who will "grasp the importance of becoming early adopters of technology.”
That was the core message delivered by Flavio E. Rivera, president and CEO of Daimler Vehículos Comerciales México, in a briefing held on Nov.29 in Puerto Vallarta for journalists from Mexico, the United Sates, and Canada.
Rivera, who was named to head Daimler’s truck and bus operations in Mexico in July 2017 after directing the OEM’s Santiago manufacturing plant for 12 years, laid out the key challenges facing Mexican fleets— including several that mirror conditions in the rest of North America.
Topping the list, as it does north of the border, is what he called the need for “operator development” to help reduce the “significant deficit of drivers.” Fleet owner Fernando Paez, who in a separate session discussed industry issues with Rivera, told HDT that the causes for the shortage were essentially the same as in the U.S. or Canada. “Long-distance truck driving is hard work, with much time away from home, and the younger generation would rather take up technology-based jobs,” said Paez, owner and CEO of Monterrey-based Transportes Olympic, a leading cross-border freight hauler.
Rivera said Mexico’s aging fleet is an obstacle to efficiency and cost control. “The average age of trucks is 17 years— and 69% of them are not in compliance with this country’s current EPA04 emission standards. Some of these trucks,” he added, are 30 years old.” All told, he noted, some 530,000 Class 4-8 trucks are operating in Mexico.
Next up, industry regulations, especially the tightening of emissions rules, which will require operating trucks on ultra-low sulfur diesel and begin the need to use diesel exhaust fluid. Beginning in 2019, Mexico will align its heavy-duty emission limits with the EPA2010 and Euro VI standards— essentially skipping the step of moving first from EPA04 to EPA07, as occurred in the U.S. On this topic, Transportes Olympic’s Paez told HDT that there is deep concern by fleets about the lack of ULSD fuel in much of the country let alone about how DEF will be obtained on the road.
Rivera then spoke of the challenge that is familiar to all in trucking on both sides of the border: the high cost of diesel. “Fuel alone represents 57% of the total cost of ownership of a truck here,” he said, noting that the cost per gallon now stands at U.S. $3.50.
All these challenges have to be met for the Mexican truck market’s growth to accelerated, according to Rivera, who stated that “Freightliner Trucks is in the best position to face these challenges and increase its leadership in Mexico.”
Making that case, he pointed to the Mexican rollout a few weeks ago of the Freightliner Cascadia— dubbed the Nuevo Cascadia in this market. Saying that “Daimler of course is a company that’s always looking to adopt new technologies based on what our customers re looking for,” he ran through the new highway hauler’s performance, safety, fuel-efficiency, comfort, and connectivity features. “This truck,” he said, “represents how we put our customers first in every aspect of their business.”
He credited that approach with Freightliner’s continual upward march in market share. Rivera said the brand’s Class 6-8 market share in Mexico has risen from 24% in 2006 to where it now stands at 40%. In Class 8 alone, the market share is 38.5%, up from 37.8% last year. “We have tripled our participation in the Mexican truck market in the past four years,” he stated.