End to the Ster­ling ser­vice

Daim­ler sig­nals the end of the road for one brand, writes GRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide -

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.

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