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Frost: Future bright for green, connected trucks

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (April 18, 2014) — As global sales volumes of medium- and heavy-duty trucks rebound, truck buyers are particularly looking for trucks with advanced telematics solutions, green powertrain technologies and safety enhancement technologies, such as stability control systems, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan Inc. Market Insight.

Trucks with connectivity technologies that facilitate vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle-to-vehicle and related communications—in turn enhancing vehicle uptime, driver satisfaction, fleet efficiency and safety—are also gaining traction, according to the Frost study, “Overview of the Global Medium-Heavy Duty Truck Market in 2014.”

In particular, this year will see a rising proliferation and offering of prognostics solutions that reduce vehicle down time and enhance mobile resource productivity, Frost said.

Sales of medium trucks, which stood at 2.76 million units in 2013, are expected to increase to 2.87 million units in 2014.

“The market will experience introduction of several global engine platforms and at least 15 new truck models,” said Sandeep Kar, global director of automotive and transportation research at Frost.

“With a change in truck sale models from transactional to relational formats, the market is expected to see a rise in investments in multiplexing technologies that facilitate the integration of soft technologies in trucks. Soft technologies and service/maintenance-based solutions will drive greater revenue opportunities for truck makers in coming years.”

Connectivity enabled through telematics is emerging as a major focal point for OEMs in differentiating their trucks from competitors, according to Frost.

“Both trends of connectivity and a focus on technologies dealing with driver health, wellness and well-being will permeate in force to developing markets by the end of this decade,” Mr. Kar said.

Diesel is expected to dominate the global truck market—97 percent of units that will be sold in 2014 are expected to run on diesel. Thus, truck OEMs in developed and developing economies are concentrating efforts on rolling out diesel engines with improved fuel efficiency, power density, and emission reduction capabilities. At the same time, engine sizes are increasing in developing markets while developed markets are experiencing engine downsizing in the heavy-duty truck segment, the Frost report said.

“While diesel retains its status as the industry’s de facto fuel, natural gas-fueled trucks will account for roughly 1 percent of total medium-heavy truck sales this year,” Mr. Kar said.

Truck OEMs also are focusing on developing value trucks that are priced 30 percent lower than premium trucks and 15- to 20-percent higher than low-cost trucks. These trucks are already making inroads on markets such as China, India and Russia, and are anticipated to grow at a rapid rate over this year.

Although value trucks deliver better fuel economy, safety, comfort, convenience and lower cost of ownership than low-cost trucks, the latter will continue to experience strong demand for the next 10 to 15 years. Moreover, a rise in urban logistics and bricks-and-clicks sales models will lead OEMs towards developing and delivering city logistics enabling trucks featuring smaller powertrain footprint, faster loading/unloading access, and better connectivity with fleet hubs and infrastructure. Several city logistics-focused truck variants will be in development and advanced introduction phase this year, the report said.

“Truck OEMs are launching digital e-retailing initiatives, such as website-based sales optimization, integration of digital marketing within existing dealership models, off-shore digitization, and lead generation through predictive analytics to gain more touch points with truck buyers and influence their purchase decisions,” Mr. Kar said. “They are also looking to adopt new technologies that can reduce operating expenses, as this will help them expand their customer base globally.”

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