CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico — Enjoying a strong uptick in market share in 2013 and its strongest orders this January since the heady days of 2006, Daimler Trucks North America is cautiously optimistic about the rest of the year and further extending its market dominance.
“When we are looking at the economic environment, a lot of things are lining up,” David Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy for DTNA told transportation media journalists gathered here today for a briefing on the company’s outlook.
Daimler Trucks North America enjoyed a market leading 38.2% share of the Class 6-8 NAFTA market in 2013, and a 4.2% increase in its share from the previous year. The numbers look even better to start off 2014 with a 39.3% share of truck orders.
That left Hames wondering if marketshare numbers couldn’t be pushed to the 40% threshold in 2014.
DTNA’s numbers also look good on the vocational side, noted Hames. The truck maker finished 2013 with a 31% vocational market share.
Despite the optimistic outlook, Hames was careful to note no one is considering a return to the aggressive new truck purchasing plans experienced prior to the Great Recession.
“For the last few years we have been counting on a significant upturn in the market. But more and more we are now seeing that this is a different market. We may not see the great booms we saw in the past. That’s a reflection of the discipline of fleets not to get over extended,” Hames said. “We will see more disciplined purchases based on what business requires. We won’t see the speculative kind of purchases we saw in the past.”
Hames stressed that “vehicle” integration (rather than “vertical” integration) will be a large component of DTNA’s future growth plans. He described “vertical” integration as internally focused, creating vehicles that are best from the manufacturer’s standpoint but not necessarily placing the customer first. “Vehicle” integration, according to Hames, does place the customer first when it comes to product development.
“You want customers wanting your solution because it’s a better offering than what they could get by combining separate brands,” Hames said. “Do it right and they will want your product because it is going to give them the lowest total cost of ownership.”
He noted that DTNA’s Detroit DD15 diesel engine was installed in 51% of all new Cascadias in 2013.
A challenge in moving towards “vehicle” integration is breaking old habits in equipment spec’ing.
“In our industry when you get a solution that works you don’t want to change it. But product design is changing quickly and it’s incumbent on our sales people to challenge the status quo to continue to lower total cost of ownership. We still see a lot of sales come in that are, frankly, based on the truck of yesteryear.”
That is starting to change, however.
“Customers used to give us the specs. Now the conversation is starting to turn to where they are asking us to provide the solution. That’s a pretty major shift,” he said, adding it’s time to leverage all the engineering knowledge available within the company in properly spec’ing vehicles.