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VW call in 'Mr Truck' to overtake Daimler

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Photo: DPA
15:42 CEST+02:00
German automaker Volkswagen aims to replace rival Daimler as the world's leading truck manufacturer. Three Swedes - one of whom is nicknamed "Mr Truck" - have been tasked with making VW the king of the road giants.

The trio, Leif Östling, Martin Lundstedt and Anders Nielsen, will appear at the IAA motor show in Hannover, starting on Thursday, Die Welt newspaper said on Monday.

Östling, also known as "Mr Truck," is the new company director in charge of VW's utility vehicle branch, a truck empire worth some €30 billion in annual sales. Lundstedt has taken over from Östling at the helm of VW's Swedish truckmaking subsidiary Scania, while Nielsen has moved from Scania to VW's Munich-based truck maker MAN.

The move is a vote of confidence in the man who turned Scania into the most profitable truck manufacturer in the world.

The Swedish company has been lauded for perfecting a module system in its manufacturing process, minimizing the number of parts used per truck and maximizing the number of parts that can be used in different models. That has cut costs dramatically.

"As a group we have the potential to challenge Daimler," MAN's new manager Nielsen told financial daily Handelsblatt recently. The target is to depose Daimler by 2020.

But that could be optimistic, given the climate in the utility vehicle industry. Analysts say turnover will fall by between 10 and 15 percent this year, awaking fears of a repeat of the crushing year 2009, when the collapse of the Lehman Brothers bank in the US all but destroyed the market.

The situation is not that bad yet, but shifts have been reduced in MAN's factories in Munich and Salzgitter.

Daimler, meanwhile, remains defiant in the face of the challenge. "Daimler trucks are the worldwide number one in the area of mid-sized and heavy trucks, and we will extend our lead in the future," said Daimler's truck head Andreas Renschler.

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The Local/bk

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