Heavy-duty: Despite likely inbound recession, factors continue to dull sharp truck downturn
Peterbilt Motors Co. is coming off a big year, as the company celebrated its 75th anniversary and launched two new truck package offerings—the Model 579 EPIQ and APEX options—and its Driver Performance Assistant technology, but the truck OE has no plans of slowing down in 2015.
“Peterbilt had a very good year in 2014, our 75th year in the business. We have surrounded the Peterbilt brand with the best products and services in our company’s history, along with the strongest dealer network in the industry,” said Robert Woodall, assistant general manager, sales and marketing for Peterbilt Motors Co. “The biggest topics customers are focused on currently include: fuel economy; uptime; and driver retention. Even though recent fuel prices have trended down, on-highway fleet customers are more focused on aerodynamics and fuel efficiency than ever before. We continue to develop new ways to help our customers reduce operating costs, and fuel economy improvements translate directly to bottom-line improvements.”
The latest announcement to help fleets control costs and maximize uptime is Peterbilt’s brand new remote diagnostics system called SmartLINQ. Beginning in July, Peterbilt trucks equipped with a Paccar MX-13 engine will include SmartLINQ, which offers 24/7 connectivity to fleet managers.
“SmartLINQ will communicate through electronic notifications and a web-portal with the fleet manager and designated dealers should a fault code occur,” Woodall explained. “The fleet manager has the ability to monitor the health of the entire fleet proactively. Should a fault occur, the email notification communicates the fault code, possible causes and nearest dealer locations. The objective is to streamline the service experience resulting in increased uptime.
“Maximizing uptime is more critical than ever and customers continue to look to OEMs and their respective dealer networks to get them in and out of shops quickly and back on the road,” he continued. “Additionally, Peterbilt recently launched Rapid Check, a new dealer-wide program that provides customers with diagnostics and an estimate of needed repairs in two hours or less.”
The driver shortage continues to be a headwind holding back further growth with fleets. To combat this, Woodall reported that a number of fleets recently announced driver wage increases. As other fleets follow suit, additional drivers will be drawn to the trucking industry. “Premium equipment plays a significant role in both attracting and keeping drivers,” he said. “Here, again, Peterbilt is an important part of our customers’ success in recruiting and retaining the industry’s best operators.”
Peterbilt is also meeting customer demand and supporting industry efficiency and driver retention trends with innovative equipment like its APEX package, an optimized powertrain that pairs the Paccar MX-13 engine with the Fuller Advantage automated transmission for up to 4% improved fuel efficiency. The truck manufacturer developed proprietary control logic that provides precise communication to help ensure top performance, optimized shifting and maximum fuel economy. APEX is the standard powertrain with the Model 579 EPIQ.
“Customer preference for the APEX powertrain reflects a continuing shift in the market towards automated transmissions,” Woodall said. “Fuel efficiency improvements of 3 to 5% with automated transmissions combined with the benefits of having a more driver-friendly truck for fleet driver recruitment and retention are becoming more prominent. Combined with the Paccar MX-13 engine benefits, significant weight advantage, lower lifecycle repair and maintenance costs and overall performance, the Peterbilt Model 579 EPIQ provides an outstanding value for the customer.”