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GM back into medium duty


Red Horse
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Heard a story that with the end of the Ford-Navistar JV BlueDiamond Trucks, Navistar is about to partner with GM to build class 4-7 trucks at the Escobedo plant. This would be similar to the Ford deal with Navistar chassis and GM cab structures. For sure the GMC/Chevy dealers can't be happy watching Ram and Ford fight over class 4 and 5 sales. Plus, can Navistar afford to lose ANY incremental production volume.

Now if I were a Navistar dealer, would I want more competition for my Terrastar class 4-5 trucks? I don't think so.

How about it KSC-any opinions?

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First of all, allow me to take a moment to warmly wish all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

The one to watch in the medium truck segment is Daimler. With a market share around 36% for heavy trucks, and a fast-growing medium duty market share of 27%, Daimler has the determination and endless financial resources to ensure they are as successful with medium trucks in the US market as they are in the heavy segment.

Navistar's Terrastar is certainly no success story, but Durastar (4000 series) sales have held up well.

With all the issues that GM has on its plate right now, compounded by a CEO (Mary Barra) that is in no way qualified for her position, I can't imagine GM getting back into medium-duty. With slim profit margins, you can only make money in medium-duty if you are extremely efficient (Daimler is, while GM and Navistar are not).

If GM re-entered medium-duty, the writing is on the wall that the company would only have a small market share, prohibiting meaningful profitability..........thus, what would be the point of such an exercise by cash-strapped Government Motors?

No doubt the termination of F-650/750 production and failure of the CAT truck project are felt at Navistar's Escobedo, Mexico plant. But frankly that doesn't concern me, because the only Navistar product I would consider purchasing are trucks produced in Springfield, Ohio by American workers. I've no interest in supporting Mexico's industrial base.

Ford only has the fleet market share that they do in medium-duty because they are accepting low margins. Ford's not making any money in it. They're giving them away to remain active in the segment. And they've no way other then price with which to compete against arguably superior competition. And now, consider the deletion of Cummins engines and Allison transmissions from the Ford medium-duty trucks...........that's going to hurt them (the decision is certainly supporting Cummins ISB-powered Durastar sales).

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The Daimler/freightliner Mexican built Cummins powered trucks are junk. I have a 2011 freightliner M2 And it is just crap I'd gladly trade it for my old 95 model Chevy Kodiak. The freightliner has horrible bump steer, you see saw the steering wheel all day to make it go straight. There have been no less than 5 recalls so far and at random shit just quits working. Seems a well built U.S. made quality truck could put them all out of the segment.

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KSC,

Well I hear you load and clear about Daimler's strong position in class 7 and 8. And while I have no personal experience I have heard of others who share 84Superdog's sentiments. The M2's are not without issues. I would say if there is a company that is truly focused on trucks, it is Daimler and I would have to imagine if there are issues they will address them

As for the specifics of the rumor that GM will partner with Navistar to get back into medium trucks via a JV at Escobedo to take up Ford's slot, I understand your lack of confidence in GM's management ability at the highest level but I gather you have no specific info as to the truth of this move?

And regarding Ford, I don't think Ford intends at this point to challenge Navistar or Daimler for leadership in class 6/7-at least with their announced powertrain options-which is basically Henry Ford's philosophy from Model T days..."any color as long as it's black". But I think their initial efforts will be to grab the low hanging fruit with a cost effective power train consisting of the V-10 gas and 6.7 Power Stroke and 6 speed in house auto trans. I think it is safe to say that the 6.7 has done much to dispel the bad rep earned by the prior 6.0/6.4 since its introduction in 2012 (?). Furthermore, I would also bet that we will see a lot of buyers who were formerly using class 5 equipment, bump up into 650/750 as for probably not a lot more money, they end up with more truck without the breaking into CDL territory. In fact, there is a dealer in my area who stocks 750's which are normally 33,000 lb trucks, plated for 26,000 lbs. My suspicion is these are heavier trucks with a "paper" GVW that avoids the CDL issue.

Do I think it is a mistake to drop the Cummins/Allison combo? Yes I do, but I would have to believe Ford knows what they are doing at THIS POINT in their return to US production of these trucks. Or should I say as a stockholder,I sure as hell hope they have a plan :)

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As for the M2s, I drove some of their predecessors with the Mercedes LN cab from '87 to '92. They were great riding trucks with a comfortable and roomy cab, though the medium duty cab didn't "age well" with rust problems and stuff like the heater and windshield wiper mechanism were a pain to get at. This devolved into the "Business Class", with Daimler ditching the coil spring and shock rear cab mounts and turning one of the best riding trucks into the worst. The M2 was little improvement, I drove a rental tractor with a C7 Cat and was underwhelmed.

As for Ford's upcoming new Super Sized Super Duties, I think most of the intended market for this truck- government agencies and small businesses and fleets- Will do just fine with it and the Ford Powerstroke and automatic. The only customers who may have problems are the folks who try running too many miles at too high a speed with too much weight on, Though with the engine downrated to 300 HP they'll have to chip it to break it. From what I'm hearing the Cummins C series will be an option, and I wouldn't be surprised if they offer Allison automatics and various manuals too.

I suspect the real issue will be how Ford handles known problems like the turbo mounting... "Cab lifts" are an engine service "procedure" that was supposed to go away with the "N" series!

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As for the M2s, I drove some of their predecessors with the Mercedes LN cab from '87 to '92. They were great riding trucks with a comfortable and roomy cab, though the medium duty cab didn't "age well" with rust problems and stuff like the heater and windshield wiper mechanism were a pain to get at. This devolved into the "Business Class", with Daimler ditching the coil spring and shock rear cab mounts and turning one of the best riding trucks into the worst. The M2 was little improvement, I drove a rental tractor with a C7 Cat and was underwhelmed.

As for Ford's upcoming new Super Sized Super Duties, I think most of the intended market for this truck- government agencies and small businesses and fleets- Will do just fine with it and the Ford Powerstroke and automatic. The only customers who may have problems are the folks who try running too many miles at too high a speed with too much weight on, Though with the engine downrated to 300 HP they'll have to chip it to break it. From what I'm hearing the Cummins C series will be an option, and I wouldn't be surprised if they offer Allison automatics and various manuals too.

I suspect the real issue will be how Ford handles known problems like the turbo mounting... "Cab lifts" are an engine service "procedure" that was supposed to go away with the "N" series!

"N"Series! You are dating yourself. I will say this-many years ago, I remember we had an NT-950D "canary" (as in Ryder) for a short term rental-nice driving truck back then!

But you bring up another good point with the so called "cab lift" to do serious maintenance on a PS Super Duty. As the 650/750 will have a new tilting hood assembly, and as they will be installing a V-8 in a chassis that was designed initially to accomodate an in line 6, I would have to think the ease of maintenance will be another incentive for some to spend the incremental dollars for a 650 vs. a 550. And as most 550's dealers inventory seem to be 4WD, I would bet a 650 will not sell for that much more than a 4 WD 550. While some would say "apples and orange" comparison, I would say a properly loaded 650 will hold its own vs a 4 WD 550 in snow/off road conditions..

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