Freightliner restructuring ahead of schedule

HANNOVER, Germany – Eckhard Cordes, head of DaimlerChrysler Commerical Vehicles Division, said yesterday that the restructuring of its Freightliner division is ahead of schedule. Speaking at the Internationale Automobil Ausstellung (IAA) international commercial vehicle show, Cordes said Freightliner hit the break-even point in the second quarter of 2002. Cordes said the original plan had it hitting

HANNOVER, Germany – Eckhard Cordes, head of DaimlerChrysler Commerical Vehicles Division, said yesterday that the restructuring of its Freightliner division is ahead of schedule.

Speaking at the Internationale Automobil Ausstellung (IAA) international commercial vehicle show, Cordes said Freightliner hit the break-even point in the second quarter of 2002. Cordes said the original plan had it hitting that point in the fourth quarter.

Worldwide, DaimlerChrysler commercial vehicle unit sales are down compared to 2001, but its market share remains the same. In the NAFTA Region, Cordes said he assumes Class 8 sales for 2002 will be on par with 2001 sales. However, 2001 sales were down 45% compared to 1999.

For the last few weeks of 2002 and first few weeks of 2003, the division will have a "very weak showing" because of the October 1 EPA deadline for diesel engines with reduced emissions, Cordes said. He added that there are no clear forecasts yet for 2003, but overall he sees the same levels of commercial vehicle sales as 2002.

Cordes said the introduction of the Sprinter van is one of the highlights for the U.S. market in 2002. The U.S. version of the Sprinter, which is marketed under the Dodge and Freightliner names, is built in Europe and assembled in the U.S. However, when the Sprinter receives a facelift starting in 2005, production of the U.S. version will be shifted stateside.

Cordes indicated DaimlerChrysler may eventually have its own heavy-duty family of 6-cylinder engines in the 9.5-15-liter range. Versions for Freightliner trucks would be built in the U.S. and for Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Europe and Brazil.

Should DaimlerChrysler expand its relationship with Mitsubishi Fuso, it would possibly build engines for those trucks in Japan.

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