Daimler execs remain optimistic despite drop in new orders

Truck News

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Monthly Class 8 truck sales in Canada and in the US have been strong in 2012, showing regular year-over-year growth. However, new truck orders have declined on year-over-year basis in the US for eight consecutive months. Is the industry’s market share leader on both sides of the border worried about the future?

Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, believes truck sales for the last four months of 2012 will not prove as strong as during the first eight and total US sales for the year will not quite reach the lofty projections made a year ago. He told press journalists gathered for an executive briefing on the state of the market that Class 8 US sales will likely come in around 185,000 rather than the 205,000 projected a year ago. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that even the tempered figures for 2012 represent a significant improvement over the 107,000 Class 8 trucks sold back in 2010 in the US market and also a healthy improvement over the 171,000 sold in 2011. In Canada, the 18,365 trucks sold after the first seven months are more than 4,000 better than the 5-year average and significantly better than the 13,355 sold to that point in 2011 and the 10,435 sold to July in 2010.

“Incoming orders have softened a bit lately: We are watching the situation closely,” acknowledged Daum’s boss, Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler Trucks but added there is good reason to be confident. “August looked better than July. And I heard just yesterday that this trend is continuing in September.”

The Daimler executives also believe there is a good deal of “deferred demand” for Class 8 trucks in the marketplace as fleet owners wait for the right economic conditions to once again start growing their fleets. The magnitude of that “deferred demand”, they believe, will be strong enough to bring the industry back to the record-breaking sales years experienced between 2004 and 2007 in the US and Canada.

“We don’t know when that will start exactly. We only know that it will start,” Daum said.

In the meantime, Daimler Trucks North America is not ramping down production, despite the downward trend in new orders. DTNA was the only North American manufacturer without layoffs or major production adjustments through the first three quarters of 2012, Renschler said.

There will be a limited number of shutdown days at DTNA sites this October and it will adjust production schedules to recent market developments, namely unstable demand due to volatile freight trends in the U.S.,  higher diesel prices, and a slower overall economy. But it Daimler wants to keep its plants ready.

“DTNA is poised to meet the expected increase in demand,” Daum said.

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