Guadalajara, Mex. Bringing its European cabover Actros tractor to Mexico for an extended customer test, Daimler Trucks is continuing its strategy of developing global vehicle platforms that can be adapted to its broad range of local markets.
In addition to the Actros, Daimler’s booth here at Expo Transporte, the country’s largest truck show, offered numerous examples of the “global as possible, local as necessary” strategy. It included a new Freightliner-badged Class 5 cabover based on the Fuso Canter, a new medium-duty M2 with a Mercedes-Benz 4-cyl. diesel, a heavier M2 with a Cummins Westport ISL G natural gas engine, and two new Freightliner Cascadias - one a day cab and the other a 72-in. raised roof sleeper - carrying its new Detroit DD15 diesel built in Michigan.
No matter where the origin, all the new products have been heavily modified for local Mexican operating conditions and emissions requirements, the company pointed out.
“Mexico is a conventional [heavy truck] market, and we don’t expect cabovers to be anything but a niche product, but if we have customers who need a cab-over, we can work with them to give them the right trucks,” said Stefan Kurschner, the new president and CEO of Daimler Trucks Mexico.
Coinciding with the show opening, Daimler delivered 22 Actros to a large bakery fleet in what Kurscher described as “a demonstration.” Mexico has overall length restrictions for tractor-trailer combinations, and the fleet intends to test higher cube trailers made possible by the cabover configuration.
The six new products introduced at Expo Transporte reflect Daimler’s belief that new Mexican tax reforms along with general overall economic improvement in the NAFTA region will bring some recovery to what has been a slow truck market. Uncertainties over the final shape of the tax reforms and the economic recovery “created a difficult market, but things are clearer now so we have big expectations for 2014,” Kurschner said at a press conference. “We expect to see a good year for the Mexican market.”
Daimler truck plants in Saltillo and Santiago account for 52% of Mexico’s commercial vehicle production and 58% of its Class 4 through 8 truck exports, he said. While truck sales in Mexico historically rise and fall with the U.S. economy, Kurschner said the company hoped to also see the Mexican domestic truck market begin to grow independently as fleets start to replace equipment. A large percentage of trucks still on the road in Mexico are over 20 years old, he pointed out.