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Worldwide heavy-duty truck market on verge of increasing global production platforms

Nov. 1, 2012
LESS than 10 years after western original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) started entering Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) markets with serious

LESS than 10 years after western original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) started entering Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) markets with serious intent, the face and structure of the global heavy-duty truck market has changed.

Markets considered an afterthought a few decades ago are now dictating the course of global commercial vehicle demand and the growth of the industry. Seismic changes shaping the global commercial vehicle industry have truly flattened the world, where OEMs from both triad (United States, European Union, and Japan) and non-triad markets are aggressively competing for sustainable and robust growth. As they begin developing growth strategies in this flat-world ecosystem, global platforms have emerged as a major requirement for any OEM with strategic intent and hunger for global growth.

According to latest analysis by Frost & Sullivan, Strategic Analysis of Platform Strategies of Major Heavy-duty Truck Manufacturers, global heavy-duty truck production from global truck platforms is forecast to reach approximately 612,000 units by 2018, which would nearly double global platform-based truck production levels from 2011. The study offers time- and mission-critical research, analysis, forecast, competitive benchmarking, market opportunity, and supplier opportunity analysis associated with the global platform strategies of major heavy-duty OEMs headquartered in Europe, North America, China, and India.

“The global heavy-duty truck market by and large was region focused till about the middle of the last decade,” says Frost & Sullivan senior research analyst Ananth Srinivasan. “With the exception of a few European OEMs such as Daimler and Volvo, selling a share of trucks in non-triad markets, there was not much local production or development-related activity. Also, the local OEMs from triad markets, although highly ambitious, had little to no opportunity of selling trucks in foreign markets.”

By 2018, however, an average 30% of all heavy-truck production of top-12 key global OEMs will be based on global platforms. By the same year, 29 heavy-duty truck models globally will be based on global platforms. Half of the top 12 OEMs will in effect increase the number of dedicated global platforms, while the remaining half will rely heavily on global platforms currently available. While the weighted average number of distinct platforms per OEM — which stands at five — is declining, the weighted average number of global platforms, which stands currently at 2.1, is on the rise.

“Daimler, Volvo, and MAN are expected to derive tremendous benefits from their investments in platform-based global truck production, while Scania will continue excelling in platform-based truck production from a qualitative perspective and will continue to remain the leader in this field,” Srinivasan says. “In North America, though, the success potential of such platforms is low due to the dominance of conventional designs.”

Creating hurdles

This is creating hurdles for European and Asian OEMs looking to bring global platforms into the region. However, such barriers are not preventing OEMs such as Daimler and Volvo to increasingly share technologies, components, modules, and systems between global platforms and regional North American platforms, in areas ranging from powertrain to chassis, and safety technologies to telematics.

“Global platform development and execution may appear to be just a triad OEM strategy to penetrate growth markets, reduce manufacturing costs and complexity in domestic and global markets, and enhance margins; but in reality this strategy is also being feverishly pursued by BRIC OEMs to develop truck models for both developing and developed markets,” Srinivasan says. “A look into platforms of TATA, DongFeng, CNHTC, Foton, among others, will show that platform-based models such as PRIMA, Tianlong, SITRAK, Howo, Auman GTL and others will play a much greater role in markets as diverse as Asia-Pacific, Africa, Middle East, and South America. These platforms and markets will also hold the potential to enter European and North American markets by 2020.”

As the global heavy-duty truck market embraces global platform strategies with open arms and looks to benefit from their effective execution, it will become imperative that OEMs do not remain myopic in developing these platforms for triad and BRIC markets alone. Even if the BRIC and triad markets are slowly approaching market maturity, Next-11 and African markets are getting ready for their emergence. This makes it important for OEMs to encompass these potentially lucrative truck markets in developing global platform strategies for the next 10 to 20 years. ♦