International vows to dominate medium-duty truck market

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DENVER, Col. — International Truck and Engine has launched a seven-stop training tour and pep rally for its sales reps, which it hopes will set the groundwork to launch an all-out assault on the medium-duty truck market.

The goal: to achieve 50% market share in the North American medium-duty truck market. Currently, International says it’s the market share leader at about 35% (not including school buses, which would push it closer to 46%). The recent series of dealer meetings was dubbed the 2010 Assault on Medium-Duty Boot Camp and by the time it concludes, will have been attended by about 1,000 salespeople from nearly every Canadian and US International dealer.

While its medium-duty market share remains strong, Jim Hebe, senior vice-president of North American sales operations with Navistar, said he feels the company has lost its focus on the segment in recent years due to the success of its Class 8 ProStar model. And now he wants to see the company completely dominate the segment of the market where it’s strongest.

“We’re here primarily for one reason,” Hebe told a gathering of salespeople in Denver, the second stop on the tour which will make its lone Canadian stop in Red Deer, Alta. later this month. “We’re going to get 50% of the medium-duty market and we’re not going to stop until we get there.”

He used military anecdotes to rally the troops and said “Frankly, at the end of the day we’re not here to make peace with our competitors. We are here to win and to go to war with them.”
Hebe was especially concerned by gains Cummins has made in the medium-duty engine market.

“Nearly half of all medium-duty trucks sold today are Cummins powered,” he noted. As truck makers go, he said Freightliner is the biggest threat to International but acknowledged Hino also makes a decent truck that can’t be ignored.

However, he said International has the complete lineup of trucks and engines required to dominate the medium-duty market.

“In medium-duty, we are unequaled,” Hebe said. The outspoken truck exec noted several market changes that are underway, each presenting new opportunities to gain market share.

One is that “Green is a constant, rather than a cause today.” He said “EGR is the greenest solution to meeting medium-duty, pickup-and-delivery operations,” insisting that selective catalytic reduction (SCR) doesn’t work well in stop-and-go applications. Hebe also announced Navistar has developed its own natural gas engine technology specifically for medium-duty applications.

“We’re the industry leader in hybrids and we’re becoming the industry leader in natural gas,” he said. “We have the best-suited and best-targeted natural gas strategy of anyone in the truck business anywhere in the world.”

He also revealed that natural gas versions of the MaxxForce 11 and MaxxForce 13 are coming as well.

In addition to firing up the salesforce, the Assault on Medium-Duty Boot Camp gave attending sales reps the chance to drive most competitive vehicles as well as International DuraStar and TerraStar trucks. (Editors had the chance to drive too, and you can find a review of the TerraStar in upcoming issues of Truck News and Motortruck Fleet Executive magazines).

Navistar also shared with them the results of competitive model comparison testing, which Hebe referred to as “the best comparison of medium-duty trucks that has ever been done in this business.”

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