Freightliner leveraging Daimler tech and innovation

Ahead of testing its next generation Freightliner Cascadia locally, Daimler Truck and Bus Australia will look to leverage future technologies in preventative maintenance and safety in co-ordination with its overseas partners. Visiting Australia as part of its recent preview of the Cascadia 116, a left-hand drive cab-over, Richard Howard, Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), addressed media this week to discuss the strategic roll out of the biggest selling truck in North America for Australian conditions.

“Having that truck here will allow us to transfer technology to the Australian market. The claim for market leadership has to be backed up with technical expertise, but also the investment in those technologies. This truck that we have here has been based on investments that we have made in the last five years,” said Howard.

Scheduled for a first quarter availability in 2020, the Freightliner Cascadia will undergo comprehensive testing to ensure it is ready for Australian conditions. Speaking at a launch at Melbourne’s Dockland Film Studios, Howard said testing would be comprehensive and Cascadia would be fit-for-purpose.

“The truck will be designed, tested and built for the Australian market. Australia is absolutely essential in terms of Daimler Trucks’ North America portfolio,” he said.

To date, DTNA has received over 85,000 orders for the current Freightliner Cascadia in North America. In the class 8 market it owns a 42 per cent market share this year alone. According to Howard, Cascadia has been at the forefront of driving new changes. Its suite of safety systems from Detroit Assurance has been instrumental in helping eradicate rear-end collisions. For 70 per cent of customers in the US and Canada, Detroit Assurance was the active safety system of choice, according to Howard.

“The electrical architecture on this platform allows us to bring the best of the best Detroit Power to Australian customers,” he said.
“The truck will be absolutely dedicated to the conditions in Australia and absolutely aligned with customer needs in Australia. The commitment from that point of view is unprecedented certainly within DTNA,” he said.

99 per cent of all North American orders have been for Detroit Power. With an automated manual transmission, Daimler has begun testing the 13-litre Cascadia 116. A bigger 16-litre Cascadia 126, which has just arrived, will also be tested in left-hand drive.

On the back of a new technology showcase last week in Portland, Oregon, where Daimler Trucks North America announced its plans to construct a purpose built autonomous research and development facility and plans for a full range of electric commercial vehicles, Howard said Oregon will play a key role in developing technologies that will be utilised on the Cascadia platform.

“The development of those safety systems will see this truck become the truck of choice in all applications,” he said.

“Certainly the commitment to be an undisputed market leader in every dimension is absolute in terms of factory technology – with electric trucks, we want to be a leader there as well.”

As a global brand, Daimler will invest $2.5 billion next year in new technologies. Howard said Daimler’s commitment to investing in innovation and safety for drivers was resolute.

Across its North American sales, where large road freight operations dominate, Howard said there had been a higher proportion of owner-operator fleets and medium-sized fleets investing in the Cascadia than he had anticipated. He attributes this in part to the truck’s fuel economy.

“Certainly we’ve seen a higher adoption rate from those customers in those segments. When compared to our best truck of the Cascadia range there has been an eight per cent improvement on average with the new Cascadia,” he said.

Drivability and the interior design were other reasons behind the value proposition and total cost of ownership.

“These are some of the factors driving this faster adoption, particularly in the small and medium sized market segments. But whether you’re running one truck or a thousand, the match of that is the same.”

Freightliner first entered the Australian market in 1989 with the FLC112. In 2000, it introduced the cab-over Argosy. The new generation Argosy debuted, after extensive testing, in 2012. Daimler Truck and Buses plan on phasing it out by the time new owners of the Cascadia are turning keys.

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