STUTTGART, Germany - DaimlerChrysler expects sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks to cool off this year.
Commercial trucks were hot in the United States in 1999. Sales of the largest vehicles in the class, over-the-road Class 8s, reached a 15-year high. Freightliner, owned by DaimlerChrysler, captured 31.9 percent of the segment with U.S. sales of 83,791, up 30.3 percent over 1998.
But Dieter Zetsche, DaimlerChrysler's director of commercial vehicles, said last week that the U.S. market will slow down this year.
The company is looking to emerging markets such as China and recovering markets such as Japan and Brazil as its growth centers.
In 1999, the Commercial Vehicle Division accounted for $1.1 billion of DaimlerChrysler's $11.1 billion in operating income.
The company also hopes to boost sales by expanding in the European aftermarket and by selling Mercedes-Benz Sprinter delivery vans in the United States. Federal Express, the package and letter delivery company, is testing a fleet of the Mercedes vans in the United States.
Cost savings remain a priority in the division, Zetsche said. Sharing components, such as transmission and axle parts, among Freightli-ner, Mercedes vans and Dodge trucks is one way to trim costs, Zetsche said.
DaimlerChrysler is also eager to expand in Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Japan, Zetsche said.
Total sales of all DaimlerChrysler commercial vehicles, including Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Sterling, Setra and Thomas Built Buses, reached 554,900 in 1999, up from 489,700 in 1998.