Daimler unveils new lease program, equipment updates

Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America, says the Dynamic Lease Program represents the future of truck financing. ATLANTA, Ga. - Daimler Trucks North America has announced a new Dynamic Lease Program, supporting a "pay-as-you-drive" model that matches lease payments to billable miles. While it's only available in the U.S. at first, the financing option draws on telematics data and is supported by the Detroit Connect platform in Cascadia trucks spec'd with Detroit engines.

Base-level payments will reflect the truck's depreciation, while the remainder will be based on mileage. "It is the future of truck financing," said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America. "It's tangible proof that we're looking at the complete customer journey." The financing model has already been tested by CR England, and will be introduced to the U.S. market in the first quarter of 2020.

"The Dynamic Lease offers our customers an incredible amount of flexibility to manage their business and is a great complement to our other products," said Tobias Waldeck, head of Daimler Trucks Financial. It won't be limited to large fleets, either. "It absolutely will be an owner-operator product, because I think that's where the most help is needed -- especially as we go into a different phase of the economic cycle," he said. "Especially for a smaller operator that can be the difference between breaking even and taking a loss."

News of the financing model was released during the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, where the OEM is also using the power of virtual reality to demonstrate available safety systems including Active Brake Assist 5.0 with full braking for moving pedestrians, Adaptive Cruise Control to zero miles per hour, and the lane keep assist features that make the Cascadia the first heavy truck offering SAE Level 2 autonomous controls. Another VR demonstration is illustrating Side Guard Assist, which can alert drivers to vehicles, pedestrians, or stationary objects down the side of the truck and trailer. The displays are not limited to the virtual world, though.

Scheduled show presentations also include live teardowns of a DT12 transmission and a Detroit DD5 mid-range engine.

Equipment updates

Announced updates to the OEM's equipment lineup itself include the new DD15 Gen 5 engine, available in 2021 and promising more-efficient combustion in the name of bettering fuel economy and CO2 emissions. The DT12 automated manual transmission will be updated next year to include higher overall ratios that can deliver better low-speed maneuverability. And new side Power Take-Off capabilities will add flexibility.

The Detroit Connect telematics platform, meanwhile, will be enhanced to include a smart alert system that classifies fault events by the amount of fleet and driver response required. And the remote updates for the new Cascadia will be expanded in 2020 to include Firmware Over the Air, addressing changes to things like fuel maps. "Our trucks generate tremendous amounts of data, providing DTNA with a history on a variety of fault codes.

With smart alerts we leverage that," observes Stefan Kurschner, senior vice-president of the aftermarket. Essentially, these offer insights into whether trucks need to be serviced immediately or can wait. Daimler Trucks North America also introduced the new Excelerator e-commerce platform to come in 2020.

That will link the OEM's dealer management systems to streamline parts orders and improve fulfillment times, the company says. It will open access to DTNA's parts catalogue within its distribution network and Alliance Parts stores, while a dedicated delivery service will speed up the arrival of the parts. Approximately 20% of last year's truck parts purchases where made on electronic devices, Kurschner said. "That trend will only grow."

There's more to come. Guided Diagnostics for the Techlane app, a pre-authorization process, and a pending Voice App for technicians are all in the works in the name of improving turnaround times at dealerships. The One Stop program coming this November will address variations in the processing requirements and procedures for supplier extended coverage programs.

Meanwhile, Daimler is preparing to bring the Cascadia to the Australian marketplace next month. "The Cascadia is the most successful truck we have launched in this industry," said senior vice-president -- sales and marketing Richard Howard. The model launched in 2017, and 200,000 units will have been sold by the end of this year.

The OEM clearly has a focus on the future as well. "We have 200 battery-electric vehicles on the road globally, testing and pushing the technology forward," said Nielsen. "In the world of e-mobility we are testing the eM2 and eCascadia with our customers." Last week in Tokyo, the OEM also introduced a Vision F fuel cell for its Fuso brand.

"We are going to, by the end of the 2020s, bring fuel-cell-powered vehicles to series production ... We are the world's experts in fuel cells," Nielsen added. The OEM has also committed to bringing SAE Level 4 autonomous trucks to the road within a decade.

Testing for that began last month in Virginia.

"Our drive to innovate and to lead the way forward never stops," Nielsen said.

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