STAR STILL SHINING BRIGHT
It was easy to understand Richard Howard’s reluctance to talk about Western Star. Sure, as a big cog in the Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) wheel, he carries plenty of clout. But then, he’s also well aware that the fleets of automotive mogul Roger Penske are among DTNA’s biggest customers in North America and, likewise, equally cognisant of Penske’s hold on Western Star distribution in Australia and New Zealand.
So, when asked about speculation that any future Western Star design will be simply a badge-engineered Cascadia, a direct Howard said simply: “Western Star will remain unique to Western Star just as Freightliner product will be unique to Freightliner.”
He was, however, far more forthright when it came to questions of Star’s long-term future within the DTNA juggernaut, particularly in regard to the brand’s positioning as the group’s heavy-haul specialist.
While conceding that Western Star volumes are relatively small compared to Freightliner, an adamant Howard explained: “We see great opportunities for Western Star both in North America and Australia.
“We are on our biggest investment program for the North American market in heavy application trucks, and in the history of Western Star trucks. There will be more to come on that [when the time’s right] but you can be assured Western Star is square and centre of our strategy for North America and for right-hand drive markets,” he concluded.
Meantime, don’t be surprised if 2020 – the same year Cascadia will be launched in Australia – also sees the introduction of an entirely refashioned Western Star. Star is long overdue for a major model makeover and if the whispers are right, it won’t be hard to spot the Cascadia influence. Remember, you read it here first. Below: Star power. There remain great opportunities for Western Star both in North America and Australia