PHILADELPHIA, PA– “Expect class 6-8 truck orders for 2016 to be less than 2015, but better than 2014”, says Martin Daum, President and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) during his annual media recap at the American Trucking Associations’ 2015 Management Conference and Exhibition held in Philadelphia a few days ago.
Daum’s forecast for next year is “somewhere in between” 2014’s 384,000 class 6-8 orders and 2015’s projected 435,000 orders.
Orders for the last quarter of 2015 will be significantly low compared to the same period last year, he says, because of “October, November and December 2015’s monster numbers.”
The upside this year is customers won’t have to suffer the huge backlog that they saw in 2014, making them waiting up to six months before receiving their trucks.
“Between one to three months of backlog is fine, but six months is not,” Daum said.
He considers that integration is definitely the way to the future and what he calls DTNA’s “unrivaled integration” will continue.
For Freightliner and Western Star class 8 trucks, the integration penetration rate for heavy duty engines is 86 percent, for rear axles 50 percent and 74% for front axles.
DTNA will also continue to invest in research and development globally, spending about US$547 in 2015 with US$563 planned for 2016.
With the addition of services like Elite Support and RIM Pro (Retail Inventory Management), and the launch of Detroit Connect Portal, DTNA develops technology to help improving its service, he says.
“We have to change significantly the service experience for the customers,” says Daum. “Trucks are complex these days; we need educated technicians and information must flow from the truck to the service shop.”
Daum also stressed the importance of investing in technicians and in the dealer network, because, he says, “that’s the name of the game.”
So far, 582 units of the new Western Star 5700 XE, launched in September 2014, have been delivered. Western Star is especially popular in Canada, where the brand beat Mack and Peterbilt in terms of sales last September.
Daum attributed Western Star’s popularity in Canada to the versatility of the product.