LOUISVILLE, KY. While 2007 will be a profitable year for Freightliner LLC, truck sales are somewhat softer than anticipated, especially for over-the-road heavy-duty tractors, according to company president & CEO Chris Patterson.
“It’s only March, but the good news is that it doesn’t appear that we’ll have to cut back the work force as much as we originally thought,” he said in an interview during the Mid-America Trucking Show. The softness in Freightliner heavy-duty sales is being offset somewhat by stronger than anticipated medium-duty and school bus sales, as well as vocational truck sales at Sterling and Western Star. Export markets in South America and Mexico are also seeing strong sales, Patterson said.
Despite the slow initial start for orders for trucks with ’07 EPA compliant engines, heavy duty orders for the last half of the year look stronger as fleet customers come back into the replacement market, he said. Overall, Patterson expects North American retail heavy-duty sales to still hit the 220,000-unit level.
Freightliner’s all-new tractor, which will eventually replace the Century Class and Columbia models, is set to be introduced next month and start full production in July, Patterson said.
As for the next round of emissions cutbacks in 2010, Freightliner “remains completely committed to SCR (selective catalytic reduction),” Patterson told FleetOwner. That technology, which is already in use by Freightliner’s parent, DaimlerChrysler Trucks, in Europe, “offers the best economic alternative for customers in terms of fuel economy and performance,” he said.