First Australian outing for new Freightliner boss

By: Steve Skinner


Fresh from the booming US truck market, Kristi Walker is no stranger to Freightliner or the Australian truck scene

First Australian outing for new Freightliner boss
25th Anniversary Freightliner

Kristi Walker says out loud what a lot of people in the trucking industry might be thinking.

"It’s not every day in Australia you see a young woman from America coming across to sell heavy-duty trucks," points out the new General Manager for Freightliner in Australia.

Walker has worked with Freightliner all her decade-plus career, most recently as manager of sales operations for Daimler Trucks North America, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Prior to that she was market manager for Freightliner in Australia and New Zealand: "So for me, although I’m not an Aussie, it’s a bit of a homecoming."

Walker was speaking at her first official outing in Oz -- the media event for the recent 25th anniversary of Freightliner in Australia.

She was just off the plane from America, citing an impressive market share figure for Freightliner in US Class 8 (heavy-duty) trucks: a whopping 38 per cent.

Following way behind are International (16 per cent); Peterbilt (14 per cent); Kenworth (12 per cent); Volvo (10 per cent); Mack (6 per cent); and Daimler stablemate Western Star (2 per cent).

Walker says Freightliner’s share is even better for Class 6/7 (medium-duty) trucks: 50 per cent of the market. Then there’s International (20 per cent); Ford (19 per cent); Hino (6 per cent); and the Paccar brands Peterbilt and Kenworth on 4 per cent each.

So it’s no surprise that Freightliner reckons the potential to increase its share of the pie in Australia is "huge".

Walker attributes the American success to such factors as the "competitive advantage" of having Detroit engines; "industry benchmark" fuel economy; technology leadership, for example introducing cleaner emissions a year before becoming mandatory; "the lowest total cost of ownership"; and providing the most 24/7 service locations.

The promising news for all truck brands in Australia is that the American truck market is going through the roof.

"The market in the United States is great," says Walker.

"Sales have accelerated faster than we expected and we actually expect 2014 to end up being over 10 per cent more than 2013.

"The industry backlog is substantial, it’s also grown over 2013 to the point where the industry will need to add production."

Freightliner is already building 100 trucks a day more than during the fourth quarter of 2013, an increase of nearly 20 per cent.

Check out the May issue of ATN for more on Kristi Walker and Freightliner. Click here to subscribe and guarantee your copy.

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