By Jeff Crissey, Editor, Commercial Carrier Journal
In 2010, Daimler Trucks North America sets is sights on becoming the market leader in the vocational market within five years. Since that time, the company has increased its marketshare to almost 31 percent year-to-date 2014 with a target of 32 percent by year-end 2014, surpassing Navistar as the leader in the North American vocational truck market along the way.
David Hames, general manager of marketing and strategy for DTNA, says the truck maker has increased marketshare by 20 percent in the Class 6 and 7 vocational segment since 2009, and now leads all OEMs in specialized hauling, utility, food & beverage, government, construction and refuse businesses for Classes 6 through 8.
Year-to-date, DTNA says it has sold 21,236 M2 and SD trucks in the U.S. and Canada, outpacing many total Class 6-8 truck sales from other OEMs.
“We can’t look at medium-duty and vocational markets as a secondary business,” said Hames, addressing industry press at a vocational truck event in Yountville, Calif. “It’s now core.”
In terms of the overall North American Class 6-8 truck market, Richard Howard, DTNA’s new senior vice president of sales and marketing, said the company expects sales to reach 372,600 power units for all OEMs combined, up roughly 10 percent from 339,288 power units in 2013.
Howard said total cost of ownership remains the core of the truck maker’s value proposition, and the challenge will be how to further develop TCO across on-highway and vocational markets.
“We have to be number one in terms of customer satisfaction for our customers,” said Howard. “That means a more intense focus and improvement in customer service.”
To achieve those goals, DTNA says it will work more closely with its dealer network to improve service to maximize uptime, with a goal of quicker diagnosis using Virtual Technician and a three-day maximum limit of downtime for the most serious and labor-intensive repairs.
“We have redesigned the way we handle customers through our Express Assessment support to provide a two-hour diagnosis turnaround and give customers the service they deserve,” said Howard.
DTNA’s recently announced Uptime Pro program automatically tracks and communicates progress in a service event, allowing customers to receive a level of transparency to ensure their trucks are getting the attention during service. Uptime pro is currently being piloted at select service centers within the 441-location dealer network.
12-liter NG engine coming for 114SD
At the press event, DTNA also announced the availability of the Cummins Westport ISX12 G natural gas engine as a factory-installed option for the Freightliner 114SD severe-duty truck beginning in 2015. Until now, the truck has only been available with the Cummins Westport ISL G 9-liter natural gas engine.
“We see the advent of natural gas and it’s role going forward,” said Richard Saward, Freightliner’s general manager of vocational sales. “We are commited to make sure we continue to embed natural gas vehicles into the vocational product lineup and it makes sense to do that.”
DTNA also announced several other new options across its medium-duty (M2) and severe-duty (SD) truck models, including:
• Hood mounted, bell-shaped mirrors (heated and non-heated) with tripod-style mirror base on the 108SD and 114SD;
• A new rock guard for 108SD and 114SD to protect the exposed region of the radiator between the grill and bumper in harsh operating environments;
• Remote start/stop for the M2 106, M2 112, 108SD and 114SD with manual transmissions to benefit fuel economy and performance.
• Watson & Chalin lift axle suspensions for all Freightliner SD truck models to quickly change ride height and improve maneuverability and durability, and;
• Hendrickson AeroClad 12-inch logger style bumper for the 122SD with cutouts for a center tow, driving lights and fog lights.