It’s been one of those good news/bad news scenarios – this one involving Freightliner trucks.
So, it turns out that the new truck markets in little old New Zealand and big-bro Australia have long been bundled into one by Freightliner owner Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), and given “special project” status.
Sounds good so far. Special is good – right? And, for sure, it has meant that even when the US trucking industry lost its appetite for cabovers and Freightliner withdrew the Argosy from the North American market in 2006, it kept right on building them. Just for us (well, actually, for Aussie, NZ AND southern Africa).
So this business of being treated as “special” has kind of served Freightliner and its customers well in this part of the world: The Argosy has, after all, been the North American make’s biggest-selling model here over the last 20 years – meeting the desires of operators who badly needed a relatively light, heavy-duty cabover to efficiently and economically go about their work.
So why the “kind of” qualification? Because, it turns out that ultimately the “special project” status has also exacted a price on Freightliner DownUnder.
How come? Well because, while it has delivered us something we wanted, that something (the Argosy) has long since become pretty dated…old-school.
Meanwhile, in the States, the bonneted Cascadia model launched in 2007 as Freightliner’s up-to-the-minute flagship has become increasingly high-tech – clearly impressing the hell out of American transport operators.
They bought enough of ‘em between 2011 and 2018 to bump-up Freightliner’s Class 8 (heavy-duty) market share 20%.
And they’ve continued to buy them – encouraged, no doubt, by a dedicated DTNA policy of model improvements (including good fuel efficiency gains) every second year.
Thus the Cascadia has become a runaway success story. It’s America’s best-selling heavy truck – carrying Freightliner to 90,000 truck sales in 2018.
While the Argosy…well, we were closing in on a 20-year-old truck (even given its second-generation update back in 2012). It was arguably way past its use-by date.
So there it is – the good news/bad news scenario: The “special project” arrangement – which saw DTNA’s production line accommodate our export oddities – resulted in our trucks getting further and further out of step with Freightliner’s mainstream North American models.
Until, I guess, it just didn’t make sense to keep on doing it. So, after years of rumours about the Argosy’s imminent demise, last year DTNA called time on its last cabover.
What’s only being revealed now though, during an Aussie and Kiwi trucking industry journos’ whistlestop US tour hosted by Freightliner – giving us an insight into the Cascadia before its launch here next year – is that with the passing of the Argosy, our “special project” status has also gone.
And Daimler Trucks Australia managing director Daniel Whitehead couldn’t be happier!
So now, with the upcoming introduction of the Cascadia, we’re a new kind of special – one of just four export markets that DTNA is now focused on (along with central America, Latin America and southern Africa/the Middle East)....
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