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2014 Very Good Year for Truck Manufacturing: Daimler

NAPA, CA — The vocational segment of Freightliner’s business is going to get a bigger push in 2014 and beyond, Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) Senior VP of Sales and Marketing, Richard Howard, said at a conference in California.

Howard said DTNA’s vocational orders rose by 24 percent during Q1 2014 and by nine percent in Q2. Since initiating a growth vocational strategy in 2010, the OEM has increased its Class 6-8 market share from 30.1 percent to close to 36 percent.

"There was some hesitation on the first quarter's performance, but so far this year we've seen what I would call cautious optimism," Howard says. "Certainly, an expansion of the market is expected."

The biggest leap in market share gains for DTNA this year will come from the vocational sector. While the sector is relatively small overall (about 41,000 units overall in 2014, up from 28,000 in 2009) compared to the Class 8 on-highway market, DTNA expects to end the year with 32 percent of the NAFTA market for Class 6-8 vocational business.

On the Class 8 side, Freightliner has seen a 36-percent increase in orders in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 2013. Overall, Howard is calling 2014 a very good year for truck manufacturing, with total Class 6-8 NAFTA region sales expected to top 372,000 units.

"We're at 30.8 percent at the end of the second quarter," said David Hames, DTNA general manager, marketing and strategy. "Our goal in 2009 was to achieve a number one position in that market by 2015, and we're gaining share completely at the expense of other manufacturers."

“We can’t look at medium-duty or vocational as a second, side business,” Hames said. “You have to look at the end customer’s needs.”

Another goal was making sure the company offers the right product for the right application, which, in some instances, includes integrating telematics with its vehicles, Howard said. This technological support is helpful when it comes to meeting another of the company’s goals – reducing the maximum time a truck sits in a shop. Howard is pushing to keep that time to a maximum of three days, which includes a diagnostic appraisal of the repair within two hours of the vehicles pulling into a shop.

DTNA now has a full line of vocational chassis including the M2, 114 SD and the 122 SD and there's now a cross-section of natural gas-powered vocation equipment in the DTNA data book.

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