Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. sees ”signs of life” in its diesel motorhome chassis business, according to Jonathan Randall, director of sales and marketing for the Gaffney, S.C., subsidiary of Daimler AG.
”It’s a tough market right now, as everybody is aware,” Randall said while attending the 82nd Annual Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) Annual International Convention July 20-23 in Bowling Green, Ohio. ”But we have seen signs of life coming from areas that we hadn’t earlier. We have seen orders coming in from manufacturers at a higher pace than they had been. Our production, as a result, is up from where we were earlier this year.”
Still, Randall said Freightliner doesn’t expect to see noticeable growth in its RV chassis business until the 2nd or 3rd quarter of next year.
”That gives us time to work through what still is a tight credit market, and hopefully, consumer confidence starts to build, the economy starts to rebound and truck companies start to see more freight being shipped, which is another strong bellwether for the economy.
”Our return to normal market volumes, whatever that means, will occur with a little more stability into late 2010 or early 2011.”
Freightliner also makes chassis for school buses, commercial buses and walk-in vans. ”While all of those have experienced downturns, it hasn’t been nearly as significant as what we’ve experienced in the RV market,” Randall said. “We are near the bottom now, if not at it.”
Besides investing in development of a new hybrid diesel/electric chassis that debuted last December at the Louisville Show, Freightliner is developing new products that will be introduced later this year and early next year, Randall said. “There’s nothing that I can talk about at this point,” Randall added.
All in all, he said that Freightliner expects to emerge from the recession stronger than it was before. “We view this as an opportunity for growth for us,” Randall said. “Turmoil breeds opportunity.”