Paced by North American sales, DaimlerChrysler AG is building trucks at unprecedented rates

PAPENBURG, Germany (July 28, 1999) — DaimlerChrysler AG built 780,000 commercial trucks, buses, and vans during the first six months in 1999, an unprecedented pace for the truck manufacturing industry.

DaimlerChrysler, the world’s largest commercial truck producer, reported last week that revenues from its commercial vehicles division are up 15% for the first half of 1999 to about $13.4 billion. Unit sales rose 18% to 270,500 trucks and buses.

Company officials said record sales were spurred by the robust economies in North America and Europe. Led by its Freightliner Trucks and Sterling Trucks divisions, commercial vehicles sales in the United States jumped by 83% to 92,100 vehicles in the first six months of 1999.

The company also sells trucks and buses in Canada and the United States under the Thomas Built and American Lafrance nameplates.

Dr. Kurt Lauk, director of DaimlerChrysler’s commercial vehicles operations, said the company could continue to grow through acquisition, perhaps in the Far East.

“There used to be 35 independent commercial-vehicle makers. Now there’s 15,” Lauk told reporters following DaimlerChrysler’s production announcements. “There’s no reason why this trend should end. … We’re in a comfortable position (in Japan). We’re the market leader in Europe. We’re the market leader in North America. We could come a bit further (in Asia) but the only way to get as far as we want is through acquisition.”

Lauk added that DaimlerChrysler would not rule out establishing a new venture in the Far East.

“We do have to work hard every day (in Asia), but we’re probably the only one that could continue alone and develop our own Asian truck unit,” Lauk said.

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