Daimler Trucks North America is dropping "Diesel" from the venerable Detroit Diesel name, leaving the brand free to include other powertrain components and perhaps other types of engines.
It's part of a global strategy of integrating engines, transmissions and other components in Daimler commercial vehicles, said Andreas Renschler, the Stuttgart-based corporation's board of management member responsible for trucks and buses. The change will occur early next year, but was announced Saturday night at the American Trucking Associations Management Conference and Exposition in Dallas.
Renschler and Martin Daum, DTNA president and CEO, also said the builder will push for greater sales of Western Star trucks and will be the first with products to meet federal fuel-economy and carbon dioxide reduction standards starting in 2014.
Helping Western Star is its new 4700 Baby 8 model, now going into production, as DTNA believes several types of customers want heavy duty capability with a smaller, less costly engine.
The new Detroit brand, which retains the familiar circular logo with swirling arrows, will help Daimler Trucks respond quickly to market and customer demands for efficiency, the executives said. Although DTNA values partnerships it has with a number of component suppliers, its long-range strategy is toward vertical integration.
DTNA and Detroit Diesel have embraced Daimler Trucks' strategy through implementation of uniform production standards and processes, and a modular strategy for engine development, engineering and manufacturing processes that draws upon Daimler's global resources.
An example is the Detroit DD engine lineup. Developed by Daimler engineers here and overseas, the DD13, DD15 and DD16 engines now use BlueTec emissions equipment, Daimler's global SCR technology. The DD engines have proven to be among the most fuel efficient, highest quality, lowest total cost of ownership and cleanest emissions engines in the industry, DTNA executives said.
Building on the 70-year heritage of Detroit Diesel, the Detroit brand is well positioned with a solid product warranty with industry-leading extended warranty options, and more than 800 dealer and distributors at locations across North America, they said.
The Detroit family of powertrain components will be available in Freightliner and Western Star trucks, Thomas Built buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis platforms, and in other OEMs including Pierce fire trucks and Van Hool buses. Announcements about new Detroit-branded products will be forthcoming over the next year.
Detroit Diesel's history began in the 1950s, when General Motors Diesel began developing heavy-duty truck engines. In 1957 it introduced the Series 53 and Series 71 engines for on-highway and off-road use. It expanded worldwide distribution and service, and in 1965 it became the Detroit Diesel Engine Division of GM. In 1970, General Motors consolidated the company with the closely allied Allison transmission and gas turbine businesses, forming the Detroit Diesel Allison.
Detroit's 92 Series carried the division into the 1980s, and 1987 it introduced its first four-stroke engine, the Series 60, whose integrated electronic controls delivered high fuel economy. That and reliability caused it to became highly successful. Product development and a major plant investment led to the DD series in 2007 and BlueTec in 2010.
In the meantime, GM separated Allison and formed a joint venture with Penske Corp. to create Detroit Diesel Co. This company went public via a stock sale, and in 2000 was bought by DaimlerChrysler. When those companies separated, Detroit Diesel remained with Daimler. Detroit is now the umbrella for all future powertrain related components.
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