What‘s up with the global truck OEMs?

12 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 3, 2020

With every country in the world responding to the global Covid-19 pandemic, instituting nationwide lockdowns and shutting down all but essential services, the world‘s truck manufacturers have in large part, had to shut down their manufacturing plants or adapt their operations to support recovery from the pandemic.

These are the latest updates.

Daimler 

Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Fuso and Daimler Buses has ensured customers continue to receive spare parts and maintenance services through its 3000 European centres during the current situation. 

“Our colleagues in our service facilities make a significant contribution to ensuring our society can cope with the current state of emergency as well as possible, and we therefore thank these everyday heroes from the bottom of our hearts,” said Martin Daum, chairman of the board of management Daimler Truck AG.

At the same time, all necessary measures are being taken to ensure the protection of customers and employees at the service locations that remain open.

Meanwhile, Daimler is using its resources to help fight the global pandemic. The global social media channels of Mercedes-Benz and Daimler are being used to support the dissemination of important information from official institutions and health organisations. Mercedes-Benz has also offered its support with the production of medical equipment using 3D printers to produce individual components that are urgently needed in medical technology.

On 1 April, Fuso announced vehicle production at the Kawasaki Plant would be suspended from 20 April to 1 May, with the exception of the production of components and industrial engines. The company says it is “constantly cooperating with international, national, and local authorities, and will continue to seek methods of minimising the impact on our customers”.

Iveco 

To support transport professionals during the pandemic, Iveco is maintaining all its authorised dealers and workshops. Wherever possible, they are conducting telediagnostics and remote repairs on Iveco S-WAY and New Daily vehicles, keeping the vehicles on the road without stoppages or visits to the workshop.

All workshops are implementing the hygiene and safety guidelines provided by the local Ministry of Health, have introduced stringent measures for cleaning the facilities, and regularly update their procedures according to the latest recommendations. To ensure safety distancing, service technicians and mechanics are working in smaller teams and the workshops are divided in separation zones marked in red. They use disposable gloves, masks and a vest. Every vehicle is completely disinfected, from the dashboard to the seat and steering wheel covers, before repair begins.

Iveco‘s parent company, CNH Industrial, suspended the majority of its manufacturing operations in North and South America for a two-week period, starting 30 March. In North America, the affected sites manufacture construction and agricultural equipment, but most component facilities will remain operational at low speed. North American parts depots and most dealer locations will also remain open to maintain uninterrupted service to customers. 

In South America, the affected sites manufacture construction and agricultural equipment, commercial vehicles and powertrains. South American parts depots and the majority of dealerships will continue to provide uninterrupted service to their customers.

On 11 March, the company closed its Italian production facilities with provision to apply these protocols across all CNH Industrial manufacturing sites should conditions require. 

Navistar International Corporation

On 23 March the company announced it would temporarily cease production at its truck assembly plant in Springfield, Ohio, due to disruptions in the supply chain resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, and has now extended the stoppage until 27 April.

The company has also broadened its temporary suspension of manufacturing to its engine assembly plant in Huntsville, Alaska, and truck assembly plant in Escobedo, Mexico, aiming to resume on 13 April.

Navistar service facilities and parts distribution centres are currently continuing regular operations.

In a statement on 12 March, Navistar chairman, president and CEO Troy A. Clarke commented, “In alignment with guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) regarding threat assessment protocols, we have activated a cross-functional response team to ensure our business continuity and preparedness plans are updated based on the latest developments of this rapidly changing situation.” 

Paccar

Paccar will extend the suspension of truck and engine production at its factories worldwide until 20 April 2020. The company will review future actions on a regular basis. Paccar will continue to provide aftermarket support to its customers who deliver medical supplies, food and essential infrastructure services to communities.

Paccar‘s financial results for 2020 will be affected by lower production schedules due to changes in customer demand and the impact of government regulations or mandates. The company will provide a business update and first quarter results during the earnings call scheduled for 21 April 2020.

Paccar says it is in a strong financial position, with excellent liquidity and investment-grade credit ratings of A+/A1. Manufacturing cash and marketable securities were US$4.3 billion at the end of March 2020. The company also has access to existing lines of credit of US$3.0 billion.

“Paccar‘s excellent balance sheet, experienced leadership team and outstanding employees will contribute to the company successfully managing through this difficult period,” said CEO Preston Feight.

Traton 

The European brands of the Traton Group (Scania and MAN Truck & Bus) have closed several plants in Europe and requested temporary unemployment assistance to support its workers in Germany during the shutdown. 

“It is becoming harder and harder to supply our plants due to the spread of the coronavirus in Europe. At the same time, we are doing everything we can to keep service and replacement parts flowing to our customers,” said Andreas Renschler, CEO of Traton and member of the management board of Volkswagen AG. 

Scania Vehicles & Services halted production at all of its European plants from 25 March (expecting the shutdown to last for two weeks), affecting Scania employees in Sweden, the Netherlands, and France. Service and replacement-parts centres will remain in operation. 

“The management team and employee representatives welcome the government support programmes that are being offered in the countries where our workers will be temporarily out of work,” said Henrik Henriksson, president and CEO of Scania.

MAN Truck & Bus requested short-time work for a large number of its production workers in Germany, beginning 23 March. Production at the company‘s plant in Munich stopped on 19 March, with other plants shutting down individually. MAN is also cutting back production in plants located outside Germany. The company‘s sales and service locations around the world are to remain in full operation to maintain the company‘s supply chain as long as possible.

Administrative employees who are unaffected by reduced working hours have been encouraged to use the company‘s flexible working hours policy and to work from home.

Volvo Group

While the Volvo Group has been surprisingly quiet on the subject in the global sense, Volvo Group Australia has announced a temporary four-week shutdown of the Wacol, Queensland manufacturing plant set to become effective 13 April, with work set to resume 10 May.

“Covid-19 has made a considerable impact in limiting supply chains around the world and our supply chain is no exception,” said Volvo Group Australia president and CEO of Martin Merrick. “The decision to idle our factory due to global supply chain disruptions will not only serve to secure our business over the long term, it will also serve to support the 90-plus suppliers who in turn support our supply chain.”

Volvo does not expect this decision to significantly affect the supply of Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks to the New Zealand market during the shutdown period, because of New Zealand‘s current national lockdown.

Motor Trucks Distributors trucks general manager Clive Jones said the MTD team has been and will remain in contact with affected customers and are committed to working closely to minimise any impact.

“Our sales support teams will remain available by phone/email to discuss current and/or future truck requirements.”

Upon New Zealand‘s national lockdown at midnight 25 March, shipments of trucks to New Zealand were suspended to ensure port activity was restricted to essential services. However, a number of completed trucks will be shipped immediately when the current lockdown is lifted.

Truck Stops NZ Ltd, the aftersales support network for Mack Trucks and Volvo Truck and Buses, is remaining open to support customers who are considered essential services during the current lockdown.


Renault Trucks

Renault Trucks has closed its four production sites until further notice. The Renault Trucks production sites in Lyon, Bourg-en-Bresse, Blainville-sur-Orne and Limoges, have 4500 employees.

For employees of its sales and research and development entities, the company has implemented a home office protocol in order to guarantee business continuity. Because the role of transporters is essential to supply healthcare establishments and essential businesses. The 24/7 breakdown service and repair workshops will continue to operate.