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Freightliner is on the move - no surprise, given the company's long history of successful growth in the trucking industry. In 2014, Freightliner Trucks posted an uptick in orders that set new records for the company and the industry as well. But that was last year. What's next?
Richard Howard, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Daimler Trucks North America, recently sat down for an interview. Daimler is Freightliner's parent company, and Detroit is also part of the family. Here's how Howard sees the future.
Focusing on three priorities
Howard quickly acknowledges that Freightliner's recent market-leading surge in sales is due to Cascadia Evolution and the Detroit Powertrain. But he says industry leadership is about more than products. "It's the result of being able to deliver the best at all levels of our organization," he says, "and ensuring that we are all motivated by the same three priorities: product; customer driven; and winning team."
That's a long-term process. Daimler established a vision and strategy many years ago and continues to focus on that. Howard says it is a comprehensive effort -- focusing on the three priorities enables Daimler (and Freightliner) to give customers the best all-around product and experience.
On the product side . . .
Bringing Freightliner together with Detroit has enabled integrated solutions that help customers save money down the road. Howard sees it as a partnership. "Our customers tell us what they need for their business and our development is driven by that need."
Broader thinking results in a product Howard describes as more than simply the sum of its equipment parts. He points to the Detroit Powertrain as an example. "The penetration of automated manual transmissions has more than doubled over the past couple of years," he notes, "and our customers tell us that the Detroit DT12 offers unmatched advantages in fuel economy, safety, driver comfort and performance."
Further, Howard suggests innovations such as Detroit Connect and Detroit Assurance offer a new opportunity to align customer-stated needs with the best products to meet those needs. "Ultimately," he says, "it's not just about the powertrain, but it's about our overall ability to deliver solutions that fulfill customers' expectations on all levels."
It all adds up to the best total cost of ownership.
Howard sees a bright future for Daimler's Detroit Powertrain, since 80% of new Class 8 Freightliner customers are spec'ing Detroit power for their new trucks. Even before the integrated powertrain went into production last March, the company was racking up orders.
The goal is to help customers "run smarter, not harder." Vehicle integration makes that possible. "That's also why vehicle integration is so important to fleet managers," notes Howard. They are better able to understand their own business needs more clearly and choose the best options that support those needs.
On the customer-driven side . . .
Vehicle integration may be a core part of the Daimler strategy, but Howard says the company ?ill continue to offer customers choices that will best fit their needs. We will keep listening to our customers, and we will never stop striving for continuous improvement. We will also continue to ensure our customers understand the full value we can provide to them."
Evidently Daimler and Freightliner have more work to do in that area. According to Howard, "we've had customers say that if they knew in advance how much our truck ultimately saved them, they would have spec'd more safety and performance features."Now that Integrated Powertrain and Detroit Assurance are available, customers can more easily understand the performance and efficiency benefits available.
Everyone's part of the winning team.
"We'd like to say a big thank you to our customers and partners for their trust," summarizes Howard. "We take nothing for granted, remaining fully customer driven and we will continue to improve and invest in our customers via our products, our people and our Freightliner dealer network."