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Daum Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner
Daimler's CEO Martin Daum emerges from a Fuso eCanter for a press event at Portland International Raceway.

Daimler: Truck sales outlook positive, but tariffs a cause for concern

Even with Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) having practically sold out all of its production slots for this year and expressing optimism about 2019, the head of Daimler AG’s global commercial vehicles division expressed concern over potential fallout from a global trade dispute.

“The true solution is that we become more and more global. All problems we face are global problems,” Martin Daum said in response to a question during a press briefing following the unveiling of the all-electric eCascadia and eM2 truck models.

Earlier this month, the United States upset allies by implementing tariffs on steel and aluminum. That sparked retaliatory measures by the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. It also has raised the prospect of a wider trade war.

Daum said the result of tariffs and a trade war would be “citizens of those countries suffering by paying more.” He added that he does not think in terms of “national borders,” and is “always committed to the countries we work in.”

Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

Roger Nielsen (left) and Martin Daum answer questions at DTNA's headquarters on June 6 after unveiling the eCascadia earlier in the day.

In looking specifically at North America, he noted Daimler has a “huge Mexican base” that includes both the selling of trucks to fleets and manufacturing vehicles for export.

Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA, said that pricing would not be altered for existing orders, but that tariffs would increase production costs.“Those costs eventually … find their way through the whole value chain,” he said.

Nielsen was hesitant to make any predictions on whether this could hurt truck sales moving forward, since “freight needs to be moved” and many fleets simply need to replace their older equipment.

With healthy backlogs at its factories, Nielsen noted DTNA is actively monitoring the supply chain, and working to identify any bottlenecks to ensure suppliers “are keeping pace with customer demand.”

Daum also stated that strong truck sales in 2018 extend beyond North America and Europe. He cited Indonesia and India as two markets of particular strength, while Brazil and Turkey are among the areas still struggling.

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