With lights sparkling off the chrome of four show vehicles, Freightliner officials took centre stage and offered a shining projection for future profitability this summer.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Freightliner’s affiliation with DaimlerChrysler, Dr. Dieter Zetsche paid homage to the company’s history and offered the crowded mock-up center at the Portland home base a hint of what to expect in the future.
“Building a stronger and more competitive DaimlerChrysler to support the Truck Group is at the top of my agenda,” said Zetsche. “To help do that, we’re in the process of rolling out a New Management Model throughout the company. The objective behind this initiative is to further integrate our global organization, to focus our operating units on their core processes and to enhance cooperation within the company.”
“Ultimately, we will be a more efficient company,” he continued. “That means we’ll be better able to quickly respond to market needs without a large, multi-layered bureaucracy to work around.”
Zetsche has been a member of the board of management of DaimlerChrysler AG since December 1998 and chairman of the board of management since January 2006. It was in the early 1990s when Zetsche cut his teeth in the truck market as the president of Freightliner.
“It was here, working with some of the very best people in the truck business that I also learned about turning a company around,” explained Zetsche. “Back in 1991, Freightliner was bleeding red ink. We turned a $33.9 million loss in ’91 to a $60.5 million gain in ’92.”
On the product side, the group will implement a world-wide modular strategy, which aims to provide products that will strengthen each of the brands.
“Our objective is to achieve a high degree of common components and modules across our five truck brands – Freightliner, Western Star, Sterling, Mercedes-Benz and Fuso – without compromising the unique needs and requirements of our customers, wherever they are,” stated Andreas Renschler, member of the DaimlerChrysler board of management, responsible for Truck Group and Buses.
Another initiative involves optimizing the business model and brand portfolio, such as grouping worldwide engine activities. The European “BlueTec” concept for exhaust purification uses an SCR (selective catalytic reduction) system with an AdBlue carbamide solution.
“We’ve already sold more than 20,000 BlueTec trucks in Europe, improving fuel consumption and emissions,” explained Renschler. “And we hope to offer BlueTec here in the US in 2010 to meet the next round of diesel emission standards in the most optimal way for our customers.”
In 2007, Freightliner and Detroit Diesel will introduce the Heavy-Duty Engine Platform (HDEP). This common design platform will help meet European, Asian and NAFTA emissions standards; and the need for higher power ratings.
“The Heavy-Duty Platform is an important step toward our long-term goal of having three DaimlerChrysler engine families worldwide (light, medium, heavy), instead of the current eight engine platforms for all brands,” noted Renschler.