Despite some very difficult markets, Daimler Trucks continued to grow in 2015, increasing its annual sales to over 500,000 trucks on the basis of the first data from December. In 2014, Daimler Trucks sold 495,700 Mercedes-Benz, FUSO, Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Buses and BharatBenz vehicles worldwide. The final sales figures for 2015 will be presented at the Annual Press Conference of Daimler on 4 February 2016.
The world’s leading manufacturer of commercial vehicles achieved its goals in a very heterogeneous and challenging environment. While the truck markets in North America and Europe grew significantly over the course of the year, the important markets of Brazil and Indonesia collapsed. In Turkey too, the market has been declining in recent months due to political uncertainties. In November and December in particular, market conditions worsened significantly. Nevertheless, thanks to strong products and outstanding sales performance, we have succeeded in achieving the annual target.
Global growth was driven in particular by the NAFTA region. Thanks to its high market growth and strong product range, Daimler Trucks is well on the way to achieving record sales there. From January to November 2015, sales increased by 20 percent to 176,100 (2007: 147,200) trucks. Daimler Trucks thus further expanded its market leadership in the weight classes 6-8. The market share rose last to 39.1 (last year 37.3) percent. For the year 2016 it can be assumed that the North American truck market of classes 6-8 will be below the very high level of 2015.
A key reason for the market success of Daimler Trucks’ products in North America: Customers increasingly appreciate the advantages of the integrated powertrain from Daimler Trucks. It offers a perfectly matched combination of engine, transmission and axles, thus providing clear efficiency advantages. Daimler Trucks was thus the first manufacturer in the North American market. A key success factor is the automated DT12 transmission. It is enjoying great popularity in the USA: over 40 percent of the Freightliner Cascadia and the Western Star 5700 XE are now delivered with automatic transmissions – almost twice as many as in the previous year. In order to meet the growing demand in the region even faster than before, the local production of the DT12 transmission for the North American region started in Detroit in November. From 2018, medium-duty engines for the NAFTA market in Detroit will also be manufactured. Daimler is investing around 450 million euros in total.
Business in Western Europe picked up as the year progressed
Sales of Daimler Trucks also increased in Western Europe to 56,000 (previous year: 50,500) units in the first eleven months. The positive momentum increased noticeably in the course of the year. Mercedes-Benz maintained its market leadership in the medium and heavy segments with a share of 21.9 percent (previous year: 24.6 percent). Despite a weaker economic development and an uncertain political situation in the region, Turkey’s high sales volume of the previous year was exceeded by 20,400 (py 18,900) trucks. Among other things, pull-in effects prior to the entry into force of the EURO VI emission standard from 1.1.2016 contributed to this. However, momentum slowed over the course of the year – a trend that should continue in 2016 as well.
Market share in Brazil further expanded despite market weakness
In Latin America, sales of Daimler Trucks declined to 27,900 (last year 44,500) units in the first eleven months, mainly as a result of the dramatic market slump in Brazil. In Brazil, 15,200 (prior year: 31,300) vehicles were delivered by November. In an extremely difficult market environment, Daimler Trucks succeeded in increasing its market share in the medium and heavy segment in Brazil to 26.6 percent (last year 26.0 percent). Despite the current market weakness, Daimler Trucks is continuing to invest in order to sustainably increase local competitiveness. From 2014 to 2018, around 500 million euros will flow into tailor-made products, technologies and services as well as the modernization of the production network in Brazil. In October, Mercedes-Benz presented numerous new products in the market in Brazil. Among other things, the locally produced truck models Accelo, Atego, Axor and Actros were further optimized in terms of comfort, fuel consumption and total cost of ownership. The market situation in Brazil is not expected to pick up in 2016 either.
Different sales trends on the markets in Asia
The Asian markets developed differently in the past year. In Japan, the FUSO brand increased its sales by 4 percent to 41,600 (last year 39,900) vehicles. The market share in the Japanese total truck market continued to rise to 20.7% (last year 20.3%). In the strongly declining Indonesian market, sales dropped to 29,400 units (py 51,400 units). However, the market share in the Indonesian truck market as a whole was 48.2% (last year 47.2%) above the previous year’s level.
In India, Daimler Trucks increased deliveries by 29 percent to 12,500 (9,700 in the previous year) trucks. Since the start of sales in September 2012, more than 30,000 BharatBenz trucks have been delivered. BharatBenz also increased its market share in the segment of upper medium and heavy trucks to 7.1 (last year 5.9) percent, due to the introduction of new models. An important novelty this year was the heavy-duty truck BharatBenz 3143, which was specially designed for use in mining and on construction sites. The vehicles produced in India are also playing a key role, especially for the development of important growth markets in Asia and Africa. In 2015, Daimler Trucks began exporting to more than a dozen additional export markets for Chennai vehicles. Meanwhile, more than 20 markets are supplied from India. For 2016, it is planned to open up numerous other markets with the FUSO trucks specially tailored to the needs of these countries.
Expansion of global presence through six new regional centers
In order to fully exploit the growth opportunities in promising markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Daimler is positioning itself even closer to customers in these regions. In October, the first of six regional centers planned around the world was opened in Dubai. These focus entirely on sales and aftersales of Daimler commercial vehicles. In the first quarter of 2016, additional regional centers in Kenya will follow for Central Africa, in Pretoria (South Africa) for Southern Africa, and in Singapore for Southeast Asia. With these new regional centers, Daimler will be able to respond more effectively and more quickly to customer needs in these markets in the commercial vehicle business.
Technology Highlight 2015 – Highway Pilot enables semi-autonomous driving
In the area of autonomous driving, Daimler Trucks again underpinned its pioneering role in 2015. For the Freightliner Inspiration Truck, Daimler Trucks in the US state of Nevada received the world’s first road approval for an autonomous truck in May 2015. Just five months later, Daimler Trucks started the test phase on public roads in Germany with the first autonomously operating standard truck. The truck is a standard Mercedes-Benz Actros, equipped with the intelligent system Highway Pilot for testing autonomous driving on public roads. The Highway Pilot enables semi-autonomous driving. This means that the system can control the truck on motorways itself – but the driver remains fully responsible, must be able to monitor traffic at all times and be able to intervene at any time. The highway pilot is therefore comparable to an autopilot, as is common in aircraft. The technology has been adapted for use on public roads. The smooth interaction of the components will continue to be extensively tested. For this purpose, the Highway Pilot has already completed about 20,000 kilometers on test tracks in Germany and the USA. A series maturity of the technology is conceivable by the end of the decade at the latest.