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FreightTech 25: Daimler innovates for global marketplace

( Photo: Daimler )

PUERTO VALLARTA — The debut of Daimler’s (CXE: DAI.D.IX) most advanced tractor truck in Mexico early next year reflects the brand’s continued push to innovate in a diverse global marketplace.

“We are completely certain the Cascadia will revolutionize…Mexico,” said Flavio Rivera, president of Daimler Mexico, during a presentation to the press today in Puerto Vallarta.

The inventor of the world’s first car and truck, Daimler — #11 in the FreightWaves Freight.Tech 25 — is bent on staying ahead of the game in fuel efficiency, electrification/autonomous truck design and mobility options.

New developments this year include a Freightliner Cascadia truck fueled on compressed natural gas, the creation of an Automated Truck Research and Development Center in Portland, Ore., and the opening of the first U.S-based global innovation center in Atlanta.

The latter will focus on entrepreneurial concepts unrelated to road vehicles — like the drone volocopter, a fully-electric, autonomous flying vehicle that saw its first test flight in 2017.

Relatively speaking, the New Cascadia is not so cutting edge. The truck, which demonstrates fuel efficiency improvements between 8% and 15% and is equipped with Detroit Connect Remote Updates, launched in the U.S. almost two years ago. 

It’s a big deal in Mexico, though. The Cascadia will help reinforce Freightliner’s position here, not only because of its technologically-advanced design, but because it represents enhanced communication with customers, Rivera said. 

In a customer-experience driven era, “this is what strengthens us,” he said.

Two Mexican factories have been retooling the New Cascadia for the domestic market, and production at those plants will start in January 2019.

Freightliner customers in Mexico don’t want to be left behind, said Fernando Paez, owner and CEO of Monterrey-based Olympic Transport. Paez participated in a conversation with Rivera during the Puerto Vallarta press event.

“Electronic vehicles, autonomous vehicles — all brands will be working hard on these disruptive concepts,” he said. “What we need of Freightliner is to not lag, to keep moving forward.”

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes early-stage VC, freight-tech, mobility and West Coast emissions regulations.