SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Peterbilt anticipates setting records for both market share and truck build this year.
Jason Skoog, Paccar vice-president and general manager of Peterbilt, said market conditions remain strong.
“Strong order intake in the last half of 2017 have set the stage for a great first half of 2018,” Skoog said during a market update at the new Paccar Innovation Center in Silicon Valley.
Skoog said orders are on track to match the strength of 2015. And the timing couldn’t be better for Peterbilt. Skoog said the company has made major investments in its Denton, Texas, and Mexican truck plants over the last couple of years.
“This year Peterbilt is in an excellent position to set records,” said Skoog.
Peterbilt has received 2,500 orders for its UltraLoft sleeper.
Last year, Peterbilt captured its strongest market share position ever, at 15.3% of the Canada/U.S. Class 8 market. The introduction of its 579 UltraLoft sleeper has given the truck maker a boost this year. It has received orders for 2,500 UltraLofts, and will begin production July 2. Skoog said the company is limiting orders initially as it ramps up production.
“We’ve built 100 already and we’re confident in our processes, but we want to make sure we’re doing a very detailed analysis of every one that comes off the line,” Skoog said, adding the integral sleeper has resulted in sales to fleets that previously didn’t consider Peterbilt.
“We’ve had customers that were long-term Peterbilt customers, who bought our trucks in the past, but said without the integral sleeper with the large spacious environment in the cab, we’re going to buy other products,” said Skoog. “Now that we have that out, we’re selling to customers we haven’t sold to in the last few years.”
Peterbilt is also expanding its dealer network, which now includes 372 locations in the U.S. and Canada and will ramp up to 390 locations by year-end. The company has opened more than 100 new locations over the past four years.
Peterbilt is also investing in technology and giving its dealers new tools to improve service. One such example is an augmented virtual reality app that allows technicians to scan any Peterbilt VIN to gain access to an x-ray view of the wiring harnesses. This allows technicians to quickly pinpoint where to troubleshoot, speeding diagnostic time and streamlining repairs.
The app is in pilot testing and the “initial feedback has been tremendous,” Skoog said.
Scott Newhouse, chief engineer for Peterbilt, announced several product updates, including the standardization of Bendix Wingman Fusion on the Model 579. It provides following distance control, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings and overspeed alerts.
A new sleeper alert switch is being offered, allowing drivers who feel threatened while in the sleeper or the cab to push a button that sounds the horn and flashes the lights.
Peterbilt also came out with a pass-through seat, which allows drivers to more easily load larger items such as cases of bottled water or luggage. Doors on each side of the seat base allow the objects to be easily passed under the seat rather than heaved over top of it. The development was inspired in part by customers and the Women in Trucking organization, Newhouse explained.
Peterbilt is also continuing to improve the fuel economy of its on-highway models. The SuperTruck 1 program, in partnership with Cummins and the U.S. Department of Energy, resulted in a tractor-trailer that averaged 10.71 mpg in real-world applications. Newhouse said some of those designs were brought to production in the 579 EPIQ package.
Now Peterbilt is working on a SuperTruck 2 project, examining fuel-saving technologies such as active aerodynamic devices, electric HVAC systems, lightweight brake drums, active height control, electric steering, and next-generation low rolling resistance tires.
One of Peterbilt’s greatest challenges now is keeping up with record demand for its trucks, something that so far, the company is managing well.
“We have great relationships with our suppliers and whenever we have a build rate increase we give them plenty of notice,” said Skoog. “We’re in ongoing discussions with them about what quantities we need for each individual part on a regular basis and I think we give them as much information as possible for them to be successful.”
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies