HANOVER, GERMANY — Customers will profit from a truck manufacturer that capitalizes on its global positioning, was the message from Daimler over the past three days in Hanover, Germany at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show.
While markets may be volatile today, said Andreas Renschler, member of the Daimler AG Board of Management, “all experts who look beyond the short term agree that our sector is and will remain a growth sector.” He pointed to expectations of worldwide growth in gross domestic product, predicted to rise by 30 percent between now and 2020.
“We all know when the economy grows, the demand for transport services increases,” and that means global demand for medium and heavy-duty trucks will also expand.
But there are two particular challenges for manufacturers, Renschler said: the truck has to pay off for the customer and that the truck must “fit the customer like a custom-tailored suit,” for whatever job requirements and business model is needed. “There is no such thing as a commercial vehicle off the rack.”
Renschler said that Daimler’s solution to those challenges is simple: be “as global as possible and as regional as possible.” Customers will profit from a manufacturer that uses a global approach, he said, pointing to the company’s investment in hybrid research and development center in Japan, as well as their electric vehicle offerings that requires Daimler to work closely with their passenger car groups.
Daimler’s most recent truck engine generation for North America, Japan, and Europe has 80 percent shared components, Renschler noted. “At the same time,” Renschler said, “technologies like the exhaust gas treatment systems are precisely tailored to each individual market and the associated emission standards.”
“Our goal is to utilize our global production network, our increasing number of product platforms, and modular component systems in order to offer customers in every market the best possible products.”
Painting Outside the Product Portfolio
And their product portfolio does seem to be expanding; Daimler also launched a couple of products typically outside the scope of its product portfolio, namely an aerodynamic trailer.
Optimized to work with the new Actros, Daimler says that they have reduced total wind resistance for a semitrailer by 18 percent, a 4.5 percent fuel reduction. The trailer, developed jointly with Schmitz Cargo, is ready to go and customers will be testing it in real world applications next year.
Notably, Daimler intends to design aerodynamic detachable body parts and sell them to the body manufacturing industry via Daimler’s subsidiary Mecerdes-Benz TrailerAxle Systems. The company is looking into aerodynamic possibilities in North America, but more work is needed. Look for more on this later.
Daimler also announced a couple of safety systems, intended for both Europe and, eventually, North America.
Active Brake Assist 3 (ABA3), a radar-based active braking system can distinguish between moving and stationary objects in the path of the truck. Optical and acoustical warn the driver, who can intervene at any moment. If the driver doesn’t adjust, the system applies the brakes, bringing the truck to a full stop if necessary.
The system is going to be launched in the Mercedes Actros and Antos in Europe, and will be brought to North America in less than five years, the company said.
The second system, called Active Cruise Control (DTR+), is an adaptive vehicle speed control system that adjusts the truck’s speed during a traffic jam so that a safe distance is kept. The system functions between 0 and 89 km/hr (for Europe given speed limiters. This would have to be adjusted in North America, officials said.) with a 200m range.
There’s also the Attention Assist (MDAS) system that identifies symptoms of fatigue in a driver, monitoring steering and meandering rate. An optical warning kicks in when all signs point to a fatigued driver. Currently, there are no plans to bring this system to North America.
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