DTNA39s Diane Hames and Richard Howard

DTNA's Diane Hames and Richard Howard

DTNA sees strong truck sales extending through 2016

Predicts autonomous truck technology will yield ‘interactive safety systems.”

LAS VEGAS. With 2015 Class 8 truck sales in North American running a strong 10% above last year, 2016 should see similar volumes, according to Richard Howard, Sr. VP of sales and marketing for Daimler Trucks North America.

Barring unforeseen global economic disruptions, “directionally we expect sales to move sideways,” he said during an event showcasing the company’s autonomous demonstration truck. The company forecasts Class 8 totals will reach 313,000 trucks this year.

“We already have good order intake for 2016,” Howard said, pointing out that business confidence in the U.S. is strong and expected to stay strong.

The story is the same in the medium-duty market with good demand from both small businesses and large fleet customers, according to Howard. Overall, DTNA forecasts NAFTA Class 6-8 sales will reach 435,000 this year and run at a similar rate in 2016, which is a substantial increase from 384,000 units in 2014.

In the U.S. DTNA market share in Classes 6-8 is up 1.1% YTD at 39.6%, approaching the company’s high of 40.2% in 2013, Howard reported.

DTNA’s push to expand component sales is also gaining traction with the new Detroit DT12 automated mechanical transmission selling 39,000 units this year and reaching 42% penetration in the Freightliner Cascadia, according to Howard. “We could have sold more if we had them,” he said. “I expect [to sell] 60,000 next year and surpass the 50% mark in Cascadias.”

As part of the press event, DTNA brought the Freightliner Inspiration, the first autonomous commercial truck licensed to operate on open highways, back to Nevada where it had its debut back in May at the Hoover Dam. This time the company put journalists through the certification program required by Nevada for any CDL holder operating the advanced demonstration truck.

Stressing that the Inspiration is not a prototype, Diane Hames, DTNA’s GM of marketing and strategy said it was intended as “a technology showcase of what’s possible when you combine the building blocks [of advanced safety systems] already available.”

Calling the various systems integrated into the truck “bionics for the driver,” Hames said the goal is not to replace drivers, but rather “to advance and extend their capabilities.”  For example, its radar and camera systems offer drivers visibility well beyond the capability of the human eye, she said, and the truck’s sensors can react to situations far faster than typical human reaction times.

Integrating these building blocks will create new opportunities as trucks move beyond current passive and active safety systems to what Hames calls interactive safety. “Combining technology and big data, interactive safety will bring the next radical advances in truck safety,” she predicted. “You can expect to hear a lot more about this in the next few years.”

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