BERLIN -- DaimlerChrysler expects a truck boom in the key U.S. market to continue until at least 2007, the head of its market-leading commercial vehicles business, Andreas Renschler, told reporters on Thursday.
The group's U.S.-based Freightliner truck business forecasts strong demand will continue and might not even slow down in 2007, he said, but added: "There is a possibility that the U.S. market will not be as strong in 2007 as it is now."
He said he thought sales growth there around 5 percent this year was possible.
Amid a global truck boom, the commercial vehicles division boosted first-quarter operating profit 166 percent to 714 million euros ($871 million) including a 276 million euro settlement from Mitsubishi Motors Corp over faulty trucks. Revenue rose 29 percent.
It has forecast unit sales will grow in 2005 thanks to strong demand for Freightliner heavy-duty trucks in North America and for Mercedes-Benz trucks in Europe and Latin America.
Navistar International Corp., which makes trucks and school business, also gave a bullish outlook on Thursday, forecasting retail sales volume in the United States and Canada would be 5 percent higher in its fiscal year to the end of October than it had estimated last December.
But analysts wonder if demand elsewhere will ease.
MAN AG, Europe's third-biggest truckmaker, said late last month it expected a "plateau year" in 2005 because economic weakness in key market Germany will slow European demand for trucks this year.
Swedish truckmaker Scania, which like MAN is largely dependent on the European market, said in April that weak economic growth in countries such as Germany, France and Italy meant 2005 would be an "off year" for market growth.
The world's No. 2 truckmaker, Sweden's Volvo, said in late April it saw the European heavy truck market potentially coming in at the lower end of its forecast of 0 to 5 percent growth this year.