The decision by Caterpillar to exit the heavy-duty truck engine business in 2010 “shows just how dedicated one must be to this industry and to investing in the engine technology needed to weather the incredible [emissions] challenges posed by EPA in this decade,” according to Dennis Slagle, the new president & CEO of Mack Trucks Inc.
“You have to be prepared to send millions and millions to create products that meet [EPA emissions requirements] and still meet customer expectations,” Slagle told FleetOwner.
Mack and its sister company Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) produce proprietary 11-, 13- and 16-liter diesels at a former Mack engine plant in Hagerstown, MD. All three platforms will use selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology to meet 2010 emissions standards, “and we’ve very comfortable with that technology,” Slagle said, pointing out that Volvo is the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy-duty diesels and has successfully used SCR in Europe for some time.
Although Volvo will also offer the Cummins ISX non-SCR engine option in its trucks, Mack will stick with just its own diesel. “The Mack strategy has always been (to use) a Mack engine,” Slagle said. “That’s our heritage and we’re sticking with it.”
Formerly head of Volvo’s North American construction equipment business, Slagle said, “I have a healthy respect for Cat and take no joy in their decision” to shut down operations as an independent heavy-duty engine supplier. “However, it does validate our approach at Mack as an integrated truck builder. We adopted vertical integration from the beginning, and it looks like other truck makers are now moving towards the same strategy.”
The Cat engine decision also removes engine manufacturing capacity in the North American market. “Those that continue with 2010 engines will have the opportunity to expand [market share],” Slagle said. “We just have to persuade those Cat users to come our way.”
Along with its engine decision, Caterpillar also announced that it would enter the truck market with a service-service truck built by its new partner Navistar and marketed through the Cat construction equipment dealer network. Mach has traditionally been a major truck provider in construction markets, but “it would be very dangerous not to take [Cat] seriously,” Slagle said. “The bottom line, though, is that whatever Cat does will only make us better – more focused and more determined to defend our ground.”