Collateral Damage

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Rough Road Ahead

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The slowdown in Europe’s truck business could dampen overall results at Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Manufacturers sell more heavy trucks in China each year than in Europe, Japan and the United States combined.
    • Iraq and Ukraine conflicts are depressing truck sales in Europe.
    • Daimler withdrew its European truck sales forecast in light of the conflicts in July.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf
Source: Andreas Labes
Wolfgang Bernhard, the board member responsible for the truck business at Daimler. Source: Andreas Labes

 

Wolfgang Bernhard, the board member responsible for the truck business at Daimler, appears at ease as he welcomes two Handelsblatt reporters for an interview at his Stuttgart office.

Yes, the truck business in Europe is not going so well but Mr. Bernhard is hoping to use the upcoming industry convention IAA to stress his favorite topics: More money for roads and bridgets, the legal introduction of truck-caravans in Germany and automated truck transit.

A self-driving truck is supposed to be the big hit at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Convention, which runs from September 25 to October 2 in Hanover.

Mr. Bernhard, the truck business is a barometer of the global economy. How is it going?

The situation for the global truck market is currently very uneven. In South America, India and Indonesia, business is hanging on, but we are winning market shares. In Japan, however, it is going well and in the United States we are having a sensational run.

And in Europe?

Here we are still feeling the effects of the exhaust conversion Euro 6, which introduced a special business cycle to the market last year. We are also still feeling the effects that the unstable conditions in Iraq and Russia are having on the overall business climate. Both of them together are reflected in the truck sales, and therefore at the end of July, we withdrew our forecast for the European market.

So how bad does it look?

We are looking at a loss of at least 5 percent over the previous year. That is currently is being confirmed.

Has the current political insecurity carried over into the business?

Russia, like Ukraine, is not an important market for us. But an open conflict would not be a wished-for event for all of Europe.

Still, you are involved with the Russian producer Kamaz. How does that affect the situation?

We decided at the end of last year not to increase our share in Kamaz. Together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the involvement still lies at 15 percent, whereby we will directly hold the bank’s 4 percent in the future, as planned. In addition, both sales joint ventures for Fuso and for Mercedes-Benz will be pooled.

Why didn’t you increase it further?

That is not necessary for a successful collaboration. Aside from that, we were too far apart on price.

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