The discontinuation of the the Sterling Trucks brand marks the end of a decade-plus affiliation with Daimler Trucks North America, following the purchase of the brand from Ford in 1997. According to a company spokesperson, “Sterling never met expectations in North America.”
Rebranded in 1998 as a new subsidiary under Freightliner LLC with its own distribution network and product offerings, Sterling Trucks was headquartered in Detroit with its conventional trucks built in St. Thomas, Ontario and sold throughout North America.
However, according to WardsAuto.com, sales of Sterling vehicles fell from 12,955 in the first nine months of 2007 to 9,053 in the first nine months of 2008. In comparison, Freightliner sales fell from 61,390 to 47,278 during the same time period.
The brand “only achieved one-fourth of the Freightliner nameplate's market penetration despite ongoing improvement initiatives and product launches,” Daimler Trucks said, as Sterling currently has only 4.5% of the heavy-duty market share and about 3% of the medium-duty market share.