Daimler Trucks said it sold fewer vehicles in 2019 than in 2018, citing a market environment that the company said has been weakening significantly since the summer. In the first eleven months of 2019, sales of 446,800 Mercedes-Benz, Fuso, Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Buses and BharatBenz vehicles were 4% lower than in the previous year’s total of 466,900.
Daimler AG will announce the exact sales figures for full-year 2019 at the annual press conference on Feb. 11.
In 2020, Daimler Trucks anticipates the further normalization of the particularly high demand of recent years and thus significant decreases in the core markets of the NAFTA region, Europe and Japan.
“Important markets such as Europe and North America weakened faster than expected in the second half of the year,” said Martin Daum, chairman of the company’s board of management.“We started preparing for this already in the summer and immediately adjusted our production.
“However,we are not at all satisfied with our return on sales in 2019. We have therefore initiated extensive structural measures to increase our margin to at least 7% by 2022. In 2020, we will significantly improve our cost position while continuing to invest in the future.”
Daimler Trucks & Buses said it anticipates a return on sales in its current business of 6% in 2019, at least 5% in 2020 and at least 7% in 2022. In addition to the short-term adjustment of production to decreasing demand, especially in Europe and the Unites States, the company has also initiated numerous structural measures to improve profitability in the medium term.
One focus is on increasing profitability at Mercedes-Benz Trucks in Europe and Latin America, above all by reducing variable costs by €250 million and personnel costs by €300 million by the end of 2022. In Brazil, the number of vehicle platforms will be reduced significantly while at the same time modernizing the remaining portfolio in order to return to profitability. In Japan, the sales and aftersales organizations will be restructured, the company said.
Daimler Trucks said the NAFTA and European truck markets returned to a normal level faster than expected in the second half of 2019 after a strong phase that started in 2018. Daimler Trucks increased its sales in the NAFTA region by a further 8% to approximately 187,400 units in the first 11 months of the year (January to November 2018 sales of 172,700). In the month of November, however, there was a sharp fall in unit sales of 16% compared with the same month last year.
In Europe, sales from January through November 2019 decreased 5% compared with the same period last year, to 72,400 units.
In Brazil, Daimler Trucks significantly increased its sales of Mercedes-Benz trucks in a recovering market and sold approximately 27,000 trucks, 40% more than in the same period of last year (January to November 2018: 19,300). However, profitability at Mercedes-Benz do Brasil remained unsatisfactory despite the restructuring measures initiated since 2016, the company said. The reductions in material and personnel costs initiated by Mercedes-Benz Trucks therefore affects not only the European part of the organization but also Mercedes-Benz do Brasil. In addition, with the launch of the new Actros for the Brazilian market, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will reduce the number of vehicle architectures from eight to three platforms in order to reduce complexity and costs.
In Asia, important truck markets for Daimler Trucks such as Indonesia and India contracted significantly last year. With a total of 121,900 units sold from January through November, unit sales fell by 18% year-on-year (January to November 2018: 147,900). Sales in Indonesia fell 40% from 57,400 units in January to November 2018 to 34,500 units in the same period of 2019.
In India, Daimler Trucks sold 13,200 vehicles of its BharatBenz truck brand in January through November 2019, about 35% fewer than in the prior-year period (January to November 2018: 20,500). In the Japanese market, Daimler Trucks was able to sell approximately 38,200 units with its Fuso brand by the end of November 2019, 4% below the level of the previous year (January to November 2018: 40,000).