In addition to investing $100 million into its Redford, Mich. plant to accommodate production of the DT12 transmission, Daimler also announced it will build its new mid-range engines – the DD5 and DD8 – at the plant…eventually.
Similar to the DT12, these engines will first be built in Germany and shipped to North America. But production will move here by 2018, requiring another $375-million investment, bringing the combined Michigan spend to nearly half a billion dollars.
By launching a mid-range engine line, DTNA will attempt to bring to the medium-duty market, the same benefits of vertical integration it has successfully been espousing on the heavy-duty side. Daimler is a big player in the North American medium-duty market, with about 40% share.
But the Cummins mid-range engine is a good product, a well-liked product. I had the chance to sit down with Dr. Frank Reintjes, head of global powertrain for Daimler, and I asked him what Daimler can do to better that excellent Cummins engine available in its trucks today.
“We are very confident, along all relevant buying criteria, (customers will) see advantages, whether it’s durability, service intervals, fuel consumption, weight, drivability – you name it. We’ve done that profile to be sure that it’s a good idea to introduce the engine into the US,” Dr. Reintjes said. “We are convinced this will be very attractive.”
He said further details about the mid-range Detroit engines – including ratings and features – will be released in the spring.
And will we see a medium-duty automated transmission to go along with it? Both Dr. Reintjes and DTNA CEO Martin Daum were non-committal for now, citing the need for a “step-by-step” approach. But they certainly didn’t rule it out.
“The next step is the medium-duty engine and we all know it’s about quality,” Dr. Reintjes told me. “You see all the launches, the further development of these products and that is a huge load on the total organization, whether it’s engineers, manufacturing engineers, operations guys, purchasing managers to get all the parts worldwide together. It reads easy but it’s a big effort and we’ll do it step by step.”
My money is on a medium-duty automated manual transmission from Daimler, but it may be a few years before we see one. For more details about the Detroit event, go here.
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