Fuso increased its eCanter electric truck offering to companies such as DHL ahead of full series production in 2019. Picture: QUICKPIC
Fuso increased its eCanter electric truck offering to companies such as DHL ahead of full series production in 2019. Picture: QUICKPIC

Daimler Trucks increased its worldwide deliveries in the first 11 months of 2017 by 12% year on year to 422,500 units, despite the continuation of disparate market conditions.

"For full year 2017, we at Daimler Trucks anticipate unit sales in the magnitude of 465,000 trucks — significantly more than in the previous year and significantly more than we expected at the beginning of the year. This is only possible with leading products and an excellent international team — especially with an ongoing situation of weak tailwinds from our markets. I thank all our employees for their outstanding efforts," said Martin Daum, member of the board of management of Daimler, responsible for trucks and buses.

"In everything that we do, our focus is on our customers. To offer them the best products and solutions, we work continuously on innovations. We used the year 2017 to work hard on efficient, electric, automated and connected trucks. In the same way, we will be sustainably successful in 2018 — the year of the IAA Commercial Vehicles show — and beyond."

The Mercedes-Benz Actros continues to enjoy success worldwide but is still delayed in SA due to poor fuel quality. Picture: QUICKPIC
The Mercedes-Benz Actros continues to enjoy success worldwide but is still delayed in SA due to poor fuel quality. Picture: QUICKPIC

The significant growth in unit sales was driven by the positive sales development in the US region, especially in the second half of the year. Although the market there was slightly weaker than in the previous year, Daimler Trucks increased its sales in the first 11 months of the year by 12% to 150,600 units. With a market share of 39.2% in the weight classes in which it operates, the company continued to be the market leader for medium and heavy-duty trucks in the region.

The company increased its sales in the EU30 region (EU, Switzerland and Norway) by 3% to 73,600 units. Mercedes-Benz maintained its market leadership in the segment of medium and heavy-duty trucks with 21% market share.

The company recorded success elsewhere with sales increases in Russia and Turkey, while in Latin America, sales of 27,300 vehicles in the first 11 months of the year were 9% higher. There was a strong contribution from the positive sales development in Argentina with sales up 47% and in Brazil where the company increased its sales by 8% to 12,200 vehicles.

Key market

Brazil is a key global market but one which has seen a major downturn for the commercial vehicle industry in the past few years. However, Daimler says it is continuing to invest there as it modernises its fleet and invests in both digital services and in the two local production plants it has there as it prepares for a predicted upturn in the market.

In Asia the company increased its sales by 18% and introduced key products for its Fuso brand. Its joint venture with Foton in China also yielded an increase in sales of 52%.

But sales are not everything, unless you are the accountants, and Daimler Trucks also introduced and developed some vital technology in 2017. The company says its development team continued its work on the electrification of the heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz truck.

The so-called innovation fleet will be on the roads in 2018, including a fully electric heavy-duty truck for distribution transport, ensuring Daimler hits the market long before Tesla.

In 2017, the first fully electric Fuso eCanter light-duty trucks from series production were also handed over to customers.

These trucks are already in operation for the logistics company UPS in the US and for the Seven-Eleven supermarket chain and Yamato Transport in Japan. In Europe, the globally active logistics companies DHL, DB Schenker, Rhenus and Dachser took delivery of new eCanter trucks at the end of the year too.

Over the coming years, Fuso says it plans to deliver 500 trucks of this generation to selected customers with large-series production planned for 2019. Depending on superstructure and application, the eCanter has a payload of up to four-and-a-half tonnes and the company is claiming a range of 100km.

Daimler has been working on its autonomous driving solutions, something Motor News experienced a few years ago in the Mercedes Future Truck.

Then there is platooning, which many of the truck companies are working on, in some cases even working together to ensure proper integration as we saw in 2017 with the European Truck Platooning Challenge.

Daimler was the first truck producer to test the use of digitally connected trucks on public highways in the US and it is technology that could prove useful in improving safety and efficiency in SA. Truck platooning uses connectivity and automated driving to increase safety with trucks driving in a convoy, as well as making the drivers’ work easier and improving fuel efficiency due to smaller gaps between vehicles.

Daimler took things a step further in 2017 when it presented another stage of development along the way to the fully connected and autonomous truck. On an airfield, at the request of a customer, the company showed how automated snow removal can be practically implemented at airports.

Four Mercedes-Benz Arocs semitrailer tractors cleared the snow from the airfield in automated mode and in conjunction with each other by remote control. Applications such as driverless operation in mines, at container terminals or other closed-off areas are conceivable.

No doubt 2018 will see the debut of even more technology, especially later in the year at the IAA Commercial Vehicle show in Hanover.

Trucks are definitely getting more clever and that can only be a good thing in many ways as the technology hopefully begins to arrive in SA.

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