Officials at Oregon-based Daimler Trucks North America said Tuesday (Jan. 29) they are planning significant layoffs at their plants in the United States and Mexico — layoffs that apparently include the company’s three Freightliner plants in the Charlotte, N.C., area.
The Charlotte Observer reported that the company made the announcement as part of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), which requires companies to provide advance notice when 500 or more jobs will be cut.
Daimler Trucks issued a brief statement Tuesday and said additional details will come Thursday.
But employee meetings were held in at least some of the plants Tuesday, and workers said they heard up to 1,300 layoffs are possible at the company’s plants.
Freightliner, parent to Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), employs 2,900 people at a truck manufacturing plant in Mount Holly and a parts factory in Gastonia. Another 2,100 people work at a manufacturing plant in the Rowan County town of Cleveland. Freightliner also has plants in Gaffney, S.C.; High Point; and Portland, Ore.
Employees who spoke with reporters Tuesday indicated the largest number of layoffs — in the hundreds — would come at the Mount Holly and Cleveland plants.
Daimler Trucks cut 2,100 jobs in 2009 and 2010 but added more than 1,500 jobs in 2011. President Obama visited the Mount Holly plant last March, saying the new jobs were a sign of the economic recovery. At the time, the company said there was increased demand for trucks and parts in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp., a division of Portland, Ore.-based Daimler Trucks North America, hopes to move into mass production this fall of an all-electric delivery van called the E-cell.
According to a report by the Portland Tribune, the company is still experimenting with its first handful of the step vans, but anticipates selling 3,000 E-cells in the next 30 months, says Ron Anders, technical sales manager of the custom chassis operation, based in Gaffney, S.C.
Many delivery trucks operated by the likes of Fed Ex and UPS are only driven 40 miles a day on predictable routes, Anders says. Freightliner may make two versions for that niche, one that lasts 50 miles in one charge and another with twice that range. The expectation is that the trucks will be recharged overnight.
The delivery trucks will be 12 to 14 feet long. They will be manufactured in South Carolina, not Portland.
“The main hindrance of people adopting this technology is really the acquisition price,” says Jonathan Randall, marketing and sales director for Freightliner Custom Chassis.
Though the company isn’t talking openly about its price points for the E-cell, Randall says it might cost an additional 70% to 80% more than a comparable standard diesel that sells for $50,000 to $60,000.
To encourage purchases, the company is offering a new Green for Free financing package. Buyers would pay about the same cash price as they do for a traditional step van, then get a loan for the incremental price for the electric version. Loans would be repaid via savings in fuel costs and maintenance.
Freightliner expects that E-cell buyers will recoup the extra costs in three to five years, due to lower operating costs, Randall says. “They’ll keep these trucks 10, 12 years.”
Navistar Inc. has urged U.S. and California environmental regulators to recall 2010-compliant heavy-duty truck engines using selective catalytic reduction (SRC) emissions technology that the company claims can be defeated by drivers, Transport Topics reported.
In its attack on competitors’ solutions to the 2010 EPA emissions regulations, Navistar said all 2010 SCR engines are “programmed to run without diesel emissions fluid, with the wrong fluid, with slush or frozen DEF or with the system disconnected.”
The recall request was made in a 41-page comment letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to the agency’s plan to conduct a “thorough review” of its SCR guidance.
EPA’s review plan was published in the Federal Register as part of a court settlement earlier in August in which Navistar agreed to drop its federal lawsuit.
Navistar is the only manufacturer using exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) rather than SCR to meet 2010 emissions standards.
At the same time it has pursued legal action, Navistar has engaged in a verbal feud with competitors using SCR, claiming the technology is inferior.
In response, Daimler Trucks North America said in a widely distributed letter to the trucking industry that Navistar ”intentionally confused customers with fear-mongering, deception and distraction.”
Annette Hebert, chief of the California Air Resources Board’s mobile source division, said they were satisfied that SCR is a viable technology. Nevertheless, the agency plans to develop its own SCR requirements beginning with the 2011 models.
“We’re looking at shortening the mileage or hours in which a vehicle could operate without urea, by using water, or by tampering with the system,” Hebert said.
Editor’s Note: The following “talking points” were distributed on behalf of Daimler Trucks North America following a workshop held earlier this week in El Monte, Calif., on the topic of selective catalytic reduction (SCR).
We thought you might appreciate a little balance and perspective on behalf of SCR stakeholders and the rest of the trucking industry right about now. Below, please find Daimler statements about recent Navistar studies and issues as well as Volvo’s published statements. These points might help in preparing insightful, more accurate and balanced reports on SCR technology which meets all federal and state 2010 emissions criteria and is in full production and in the field. As you will see, the comments below relate to flaws in the studies and issues advanced this week by Navistar.
Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) Statement re: Navistar Studies on SCR distributed July 19 on fluid efficiency and July 20 on emissions.
The credibility or validity of the test published by Navistar cannot be judged without revelation of more details. We run stringent fuel economy tests at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) which are both accurate and substantiated. We test back-to-back componentry which is comparable from both a truck and an engine perspective. Ratings, displacements, truck configuration and more are matched to achieve valid results. The combination chosen by our competitor does not comply with these basic premises for proper engineering work and thus doesn’t provide a trustworthy result.
The 440-mile test run by our competitor is not appropriate for testing modern EPA 2010-compliant trucks. Running such a short distance test tampers with the outcome by calibrating regeneration intervals to occur immediately before and immediately after the test is completed. DTNA’s BlueTec Detroit Diesel engines regenerate after thousands of miles, not hundreds of miles. The longer the test, the more realistic the results and the closer they are to what a customer would experience in real world operations. DTNA has built more than 3,000 EPA 2010-compliant Cascadias with DD15 engines and more than 2,000 full production vehicles are currently running every day in customer fleets. Numerous customers running real life tests had completely different results and they have found Freightliner to be the best solution.
In order to get a truly accurate and reliable comparison between vehicles, the use of comparable products with equivalent drivetrain components is a must. We’re eagerly anticipating acquiring an EPA 2010 certified series production 12.4L MaxxForce engine in order to run our own comparison study.
In the end, customers have voted loud and clear for Daimler’s BlueTec solution. Daimler Trucks North America has logged more than 25,000 EPA 2010 SCR-equipped orders. We are unaware of any announcements made by Navistar on their sales track record in this category to-date.
It is neither appropriate nor credible to compare the 12.4L MaxxForce “mystery” engine with proven technology available in the market. A statement by JPMorgan issued just yesterday in an investor guidance statement picked up on public websites effectively refutes Navistar inferences from the study. In it, JPMorgan clearly articulates “the apples-and-oranges flaw in the comparison and questions Navistar’s intent in commissioning the study.” We agree with that statement.
Daimler Trucks North America offers the following information re: the EPA/CARB Workshop.
- Members of the Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) regulatory and engineering teams attended the workshop co-hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board.
- Data collected by DTNA and reported to agencies for compliance certification of its Detroit Diesel engines with BlueTec emissions systems comes after completion of more than 30 million test miles, including several million customer freight hauling miles in DTNA EPA2010 trucks.
- DTNA’s EPA2010 trucks have been built on the assembly line in full production mode since the beginning of 2010 and, to date, Freightliner has built more than 3,000 EPA2010-compliant Cascadias with DD15 engines. Over 2,000 DTNA EPA2010-compliant trucks are running in customer fleets already, with customer orders for more than 25,000 EPA10 vehicles to date, including 16,565 Freightliner-brand trucks.
- DTNA’s BlueTec emissions systems operate as designed, meeting federal and state air quality standards that reduce particulate matter and nitrogen oxides to near-zero levels without the use of credits.
- DTNA testing and customer experiences also validate that DEF refilling inducements work to consistently and effectively keep each DTNA vehicle operating in compliance with 2010 emissions standards.
- The company will not comment on technologies manufactured or actions taken by other companies.
Meanwhile, Volvo Group defends SCR at environmental workshop – Truck News – 7-22-10
EL MONTE, Cal. — Representatives from Volvo Group attended a recent workshop with environmental regulators, initiated by Navistar to raise concerns about selective catalytic reduction (SCR).
The company strongly defended the effectiveness of SCR and warned against revamping the regulations with the roll-out of EPA2010-compliant engines already well underway.
“We question the need to make modifications to SCR strategies just six months after SCR products were brought to market,” said Steve Berry, director of government relations with Volvo Powertrain. “These strategies were thoughtfully developed in good faith by EPA, CARB and EMA, applying their collective best judgment to balance SCR operation with other critical issues, not the least of which is safety.”
Volvo raised the point that unjustifiably limiting engine torque excessively could cause safety concerns on the road or strand drivers in the middle of nowhere in adverse conditions.
Berry went on to say “We have seen no evidence of DEF refill or SCR tampering issues in the field and believe it is premature to impose new restrictions in the absence of any evidence of need.”
John Mies, vice president, corporate communications with Mack and Volvo called out Navistar.
“The fact is that a Mack or Volvo truck running at 0.2 grams (per brake hp/hr NOx) is and will continue to be much better for the environment than a Navistar truck running at 0.5 grams – and no amount of changes to the inducement strategies will change that,” he said. “Let’s make sure that what we do is truly in the interest of the environment and the public. And let’s not penalize those who have worked with you in good faith, and reward those who are trying to manipulate the system for their own competitive advantage.”
Volvo Group has already delivered more than 3,500 Volvo and Mack engines with SCR in North America and has received orders for more than 10,000.