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August 15, 2011

Freightliner’s Low-Cost Leadership

Freightliner has reasserted its “Run Smart” tagline with an uncompromising new campaign to its dealers and to the marketplace. The message ‒ Freightliner is still Running Smart and this philosophy gives it "undisputed market leadership" ‒ is a rallying cry for the company and a slogan the dealers can get behind. And however much other truck companies might dislike it, it's pretty much a statement of how things are.

At a press meeting last week in California's Napa Valley wine country, company officials laid out plans that will differentiate Freightliner from its competition and assure the company stays in the lead. Obvious examples are to be seen in the print advertising and Internet presence that emphasize the trucks and, more importantly, the people who own and operate them. The theme is that operating the trucks from the undisputed market leader is a shortcut to business success.

Key to this is the cost of ownership which, says David Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy, starts with the proven economy advantage that the Heavy-Duty Engine Platform ‒ HDEP ‒ has over the competition, with a 5% advantage over the nearest competitor.

HDEP is, of course, the Detroit Diesel DD13, DD15 and DD16 engines, which were introduced starting in 2006. Since the beginning of 2010 the engines have been delivering significant fuel savings to customers through SCR technology. Added to that are the recent aerodynamic improvements to the wind-tunnel developed Cascadia that bring another couple of percentage points to the table.

As Freightliner heads into the 2014 and 2017 greenhouse-gas reduction mandate announced by the White House last week, there will be annual improvements in fuel economy that by 2015 will deliver at last 1 mpg average fuel consumption improvement from a baseline 6.9 mpg today.

This nearly 15% gain will come from a number of technologies: further aerodynamic refinements, engine enhancements, driveline integration, predictive technologies, lower parasitic loses, energy management, waste heat reduction, weight saving and ‒ in the immediate future ‒ approval of 5W-30 lubricant for the Detroit Diesel engines. (As an aside, it is worthy of note that in the high-fuel-cost environment of Europe, this grade has been factory fill at Mercedes-Benz trucks coming out of the Worth plant for a number of years. I predicted this move, more or less, in my most recent column in Diesel Progress magazine.)

To drive these economy measures into the market, Freightliner will bundle the different contributors to fuel economy improvement and incentivize them so that customers who may have not opted for, for example, chassis fairings, will in future take the whole bundle and experience the optimum improvement.

Addressing the suitability of the traditionally styled Coronado in the 2014-2017 mandate to reduce greenhouse gases, Hames pointed to the far greater popularity of the chassis in the vocational applications as the Coronado SD. In over-the-road applications, Coronado has only been popular at the margins and likely its popularity will fall off with greater demands for fuel economy.

Other developments in the Freightliner power lineup will be the addition of the Cummins ISX11.9 which, at an anticipated 400 hp, will be an ideal fit for regional hauls that are becoming more and more a component of truckload freight movement.

In that mode, too, alternative fuels are becoming more significant. In the meeting, Hames said Freightliner is looking to compressed and liquid natural gas for sales in addition to the 3,500 gas-powered trucks it has already delivered. Hybrids will be a part of the overall picture and Freightliner has already deployed 1,500 hybrids to give it a strong market presence with this technology.

1 comment:

  1. I agree, the amount of greenhouse gases attributed to transport vehicles is too much. This step in a green solution is a welcome development.
    conservatory prices