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Sterling boosting dealer network and truck production

LOUISVILLE, Ky -- Sterling enjoyed considerable market growth last year and is hoping changes to its A-Line and Act...

LOUISVILLE, Ky — Sterling enjoyed considerable market growth last year and is hoping changes to its A-Line and Acterra trucks as well as an impressive expansion of its dealer network will help continue to expand its popularity with the truck buyers.

The six-year-old truck maker increased sales in Class 6/7 by 32% and Class 8 by 11% in 2003. In the U.S. its market share of Class 6/7 market increased from 3.2% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2003 and its market share of the Class 8 market rose from 6% to 6.7%. In Canada the gains were from 6% to 6.7% in the Class 6/7 market while the Class 8 market share rose from 6.3% to 7.4%.

Sterling’s St. Thomas, Ont. Manufacturing plant will soon be pumping out more than 100 trucks a day, said John Merrifield, senior vice president of sales and marketing, to meet what he expects to be a very strong demand for new trucks from 2004 to 2006.

"Ultimately we want 10% market share in Canada and the U.S.," said Merrifield.

To get there the truck maker has made significant additions to its dealer network. Sterling added 116 new locations to its dealer network in the U.S. and Canada since 2001 and showed a 17% increase in locations in 2003 alone.

Sterling is also hoping the latest enhancements to its truck line up will entice truck buyers. The enhancements to the medium-duty Acterra line of trucks include two new two-pedal automated shift transmissions and factory-installed all-wheel drive.

The two-pedal Mercedes-Benz Automated Gear Shift (AGS) transmission is based on the Mercedes-Benz manual six-speed. The trannie requires no manual shifting or clutching.

Also available on the Acterra is Eaton Fuller’s UltraShift six-speed transmission, which Sterling claims combines the durability of a manual transmission with automated shifting. Synthetic lube, which is standard with Eaton UltraShift transmission, provides extended oil change intervals.

The factory-installed, four-wheel automatic traction control uses an exclusive Automatic Lock Control Transfer Case coupled with the standard front and rear wheel traction control systems. Acterras equipped with all-wheel driver are available with front axle ratings of 12,000, 14,000 and 16,000 lbs.

Meanwhile changes to the A-Line work trucks include new aerodynamic mirrors, a Bostrom seat and a Visteon scroll compressor.

The mirrors have smaller heads for improved side and forward visibility and aluminum extrusion brackets to reduce weight. The Bostrom "Freedom" seat comes standard with a longer headrest, wider suspension, increased lumbar support, and newly designed foam density and contours. The scroll-type processor, used for many years in luxury and high-end automotive applications, has been upgrade for heavy duty trucking use. The ruggedized compressor uses fewer moving parts and has virtually no wear points compared to typical piston type compressors.

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