Daimler marks a record year, expects strong market to continue

Daimler Trucks is coming off a record-setting year, having sold more than half a million trucks globally in 2018.

Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Trucks and Buses, provided a keynote address at a Daimler event at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here this morning. He said the venue – the global showcase for innovation – was appropriate, as trucks have become more sophisticated.

“Trucks are all about technologies,” Daum said. “Today’s on-highway truck has about 400 sensors on-board and about 100 million lines of software code. It’s mind-boggling if we think about it. Every truck we sell today in an on-highway basis is constantly online to make the truck and the usage of the truck better and more efficient.”

As for the global truck market, Daum said 2018 was the best year ever for Daimler. The U.S. market was particularly strong. Roger Nielsen, CEO of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), pointed out the U.S. had the highest new truck sales volumes since 2006.

“Unfortunately, unprecedented demand came along with significant supply constraints,” he acknowledged. “But we at DTNA were able to defend our undisputed market leadership position with our best sales results in history.”

DTNA increased its Classes 6-8 retail sales in the U.S. and Canada by 18% over 2017, and its Class 8 sales surged by 26%. More than half those sales were new Cascadias, Nielsen noted, adding the company has already sold or booked orders for 145,000 units of the truck introduced in 2017.

Daimler-owned Western Star also benefited, with 18% growth over 2017. Take rates of Daimler’s proprietary engines, transmissions and axles also reached new highs, Nielsen said.

“We are confident 2019 will be another great year for North America’s trucking industry,” he said. “We do expect to see a continuation of the strong trucking market throughout the first months of 2019. We expect to see some moderation and normalization in the second half of the year.”

DTNA at the show made several key announcements, including its decision to abandon truck platooning research and development for now, its launch of the industry’s first Level 2 autonomous truck, and new options and enhancements for the new Cascadia. We will have lots more on these developments soon.