LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Western Star may control just 2.6% of the North American Class 8 market, but it’s feeling pretty good about itself these days.
The truck maker has seen its net orders increase by about 50% year-to-date in 2014, which represents stronger growth than any other OEM has experienced over the same period. But there’s still work to be done.
Mike Jackson, general manager of Western Star, said he’d like the company to represent 3% of the Canada/US market this year, which means it has to strengthen its presence in the US. About 45% of the trucks Western Star builds come to Canada, where its market share is about 9%. In the US it sits at about 1.5%, and for the company to achieve its goal of 3% by year-end, it will need to bring its US market share to 2.5%. In Canada, Jackson said he’d like to see Western Star’s share increase to 10-12%.
Western Star has Canadian roots, having been designed and built in Kelowna, B.C. before Daimler acquired the company in 2000. It languished somewhat at first under the Daimler umbrella but received a boost in about 2009 when the company restructured and was granted more autonomy.
Since 2009 there have been about eight new product launches or updates for the Western Star line. The most significant of these was the introduction of the 4700 ‘Baby’ 8, which Jackson said was pivotal in expanding the brand’s reach.
“It has been a big hit among the vocational markets and has propped us up in those construction and government markets, which was exactly what it was geared for,” Jackson said of the 4700.
Western Star has nearly doubled its share of the vocational market since 2010, from 2.1% to 4%, when Navistar and Freightliner are removed (the truck maker doesn’t consider those brands its chief competitors). At the same time, its on-highway share has improved from 1.4% to 2.4%, again, excluding Freightliner and Navistar.
Already, the 4700 represents about 39% of Western Star’s sales (the 4800 and 4900 account for about 60% of production).
Ann Demitruk, head of marketing for Western Star, said the 4700 gave the truck maker an in with the government/municipality, wholesale/retail, mixer, food and beverage, crane and utility segments.
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