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August 20, 2011

Freightliner Parts When and Where You Need Them

At a press briefing last week, Freightliner managers talked about changes to the company and product that make Freightliner the “Undisputed Market Leader.” Among the deliverables that guarantee this position is service support. John O’Leary, Freightliner senior vice president for aftermarket says the organization not only supports the brand, but because of the wide offering of remanufactured parts in the parts program, it has contributed to the corporate sustainability goals. For example, Freightliner’s glider business accounted for 2,700 units last year.

Gliders are a new rolling chassis without an engine, and they’re offered for assembly with a remanufactured Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine. When assembled and with some tax savings, the glider comes out at around 75% of the cost of a new truck, says O’Leary. However, the interest of late is less to do with the cost savings than fear of the new technologies introduced to comply with EPA2010. With the widespread good experience of those technologies – notably SCR aftertreatment – the market is now much more accepting of new trucks and Freightliner is anticipating a softening in demand for the gliders.

But parts demand generally has been strong, with June and July this year hitting record numbers – perhaps a sign that the North American truck fleet is at its oldest in memory. In fact, the Freightliner parts business today stands at around $9 million a day or $2.2 billion annually.

To keep the parts available, Freightliner has inventory at Parts Distribution Centers around the country, and last year introduced the OE Connection whereby parts managers can view parts inventories at other dealers to access needed parts for repairs. The 512 participating dealers have access to 1.4 million parts and are about 12,000 successful parts locates per month.

Another successful program is Express Assessment, two-hour check and advise. Under the program, customers are assured a quick diagnosis and report so they can make a decision about repowering a load. It may not be quite as slick as Virtual Technician (see previous blog) but it goes a long way to improving customer relations, which can take a bruising during the repair process.

To make dealers easier to locate, there’s now a smart-phone app under the name TruckerNet with a supporting website truckernet.com.

Alliance all-makes parts
Another initiative that’s broadening parts availability is the Alliance all-makes parts through Freightliner and Western Star dealers. For fast-moving parts, this brand can offer an alternative source of non-Daimler products, often at good-to-better price points. In the case of the recently added batteries, Alliance is the best way to go, says O’Leary.

New products in the Alliance range include bumpers, charge-air coolers, radiators, radios, brake chambers and back-up alarms. Coming in 4th quarter 2011 are fuel tanks, with U joints in 2012.

To promote the Alliance brand, Daimler has partnered with Roger Penske to sponsor the #12 NASCAR Dodge Challenger driven by Sam Hornish Jr. There was a dealer Pit Stop tour in 2011 and there is a Facebook page all adding to the buzz.

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