When it comes to large truck manufacturers, the adage holds true: Think globally, act locally. The fact is components from engines to drive trains come from just about anywhere in the world today. No matter where you look, trucking is a globally interconnected industry. But does that mean we shouldn’t be thinking locally?
As automotive manufacturers and related industries become increasingly intertwined, consolidation has swept through the industry. Now, across the globe, massive corporate entities design, sell and distribute products.
Meanwhile, research and development costs continue to rise. Combined with increasing regulations, and global OEMS need to increasingly coordinate their global products platform solutions.
Yet would you believe that heavy-duty commercial trucks sold in North America are quite different from their European counterparts? Few can agree on what the idea of a “global truck” should be.
What is a Global Truck?
To most, a global truck is one that can meet standards and needs of markets across the world. These advanced machines would leverage technologies developed on a global scale, but would still be able to benefit specific markets without compromising design.
From a truck manufacturer’s perspective, a global truck is all about working with common architectures and shared technologies. These are systems and processes shared the world over. Shared lessons can be learned about safety and technique.
Still, some wonder whether it’s possible to build a global truck, able to meet the needs of all markets without compromising on design or suitability. Could we still be quite a long way from a global truck?
Markets are Different
While we are quite familiar with our home market, the dynamics are very different the world over. When we talk “globally,” we are referring to many OEMs making different vehicle types designed for markets with specific emissions standards.
For many, this means that the different needs of each region could hobble the process. Varying regulations and standards make bad bedfellows for identical solutions.
Many point to the problem of how complex juggling these conflicting global demands really will be. Could meeting the needs of these various markets really be possible in the present environment? After all, these parts will need to be designed to meet the needs of each market without compromising on local need.
Where it Makes a Difference
In areas where this global trend could prove a positive development could be where large-scale manufacturing processes reign supreme, such as engine and heavy-duty component makers. These guys don’t need to reinvent the wheel, they merely need to refine their manufacturing techniques.
Engine manufacturing technology and techniques can be shared across the board, and it can make the most difference where local requirements put pressure on the concept of a global truck.
Globalized manufacturing techniques allow for truck technology to adapt to the needs of the market. Let’s face it, developing this stuff costs a lot of money. Being able to put it on the shelf and utilize it within several different business units could make a big difference to a fleet’s bottom line.
When industry players can more easily bring specific products to market through leveraging global techniques or equipment, a network of experience and resources to draw upon could prove to be a huge asset.
So, when one thinks of a global truck, perhaps it’s better to view it less to build the perfect truck for everyone and more like a way for OEMs, suppliers and other industry participants to leverage their knowledge and engineering capabilities for the betterment of all processes. This isn’t about opening borders or increasing global trade, it’s about a specific industry working with itself for the betterment of itself.