End to the Sterling service
Daimler signals the end of the road for one brand, writes GRAHAMSMITH
DAIMLER Trucks will dump its Sterling brand next year in a huge restructuring of its North American operations and will concentrate on its two remaining brands there, Freightliner and Western Star.
The move also means the end of the road for the Sterling brand in Australia after 10 years on the local market.
There was virtually no warning of the dramatic move to drop the Sterling brand and close its Canadian plant, says Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific managing director for commercial vehicles Ken Matthews.
Matthews says though it has been accelerated by the fall in demand for trucks — particularly in North America, where demand has slumped dramatically since 2006 — it’s not because of the meltdown of the US financial system.
Sterling production will end in March at the St Thomas plant in Ontario, which will close down.
Daimler will also close its plant in Portland, Oregon, in 2010.
In all, 2300 workers will be affected by the closure of the plants. Another 1200 salaried employees will also be affected.
Western Star production will transfer to the company’s plant in Santiago, Mexico. Production of the Freightliner, including the Cascadia, will start at a plant in Saltillo, Mexico, next February.
The moves will not affect the right-hand drive Argosy, which will continue to be produced in the US, Matthews says.
‘‘Daimler Trucks North America has reaffirmed its commitment to the Argosy for right-hand drive markets,’’ he says.
With Sterling going, Daimler Trucks North America will add to its Freightliner and Western Star ranges to cover the loss.
Locally, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific plans to release an expanded range of Freightliner models to cover the gaps left in its range from Sterling. Moves have been made in Australia to ensure a supply of Sterling trucks until the new Freightliner range kicks in.
‘‘We have provisioned enough Sterling trucks to ensure our loyal Sterling customers can continue to have access to this brand during the transition to right-hand Freightliner product,’’ Matthews says.
He adds his company is com- mitted to providing Sterling customers with the same level of service and parts support for the next 10 years, and notes the company’s commitment to Freightliner will result in speedier delivery of safety, environmental and productivity developments.
‘‘With (North America’s) investment commitment and dedicated focus on a single brand Freightliner, the delivery of innovations in safety, environmental outcomes and end user productivity will be further enhanced,’’ he says.
‘‘We are well advanced in our plans with Freightliner to ensure our commercial vehicle customers will benefit from this focus on a single US brand in Freightliner,’’ he says.
Truck stop: Daimler Trucks is halting the manufacture of Sterlings and moving production of Western Star and Freightliner brands to Mexico.