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Electrification and Autonomous Driving to be Key New Product Focus Areas for the Commercial Vehicle Industry
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Global medium-duty (MD) and heavy-duty (HD) trucks sales grew 29% in 2017 from 2016 because of 62.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) growth in China crossing the 1 million mark, along with 55.1% growth in Russia , 41.1% growth in Next 11, and 23% growth in India. In 2018, growth in North America, South America, Russia, Next 11, and RoW markets is expected to continue to be positive, while China, although over the 1 million mark in 2018, will be a smaller market than in 2017. South America is expected to put the prolonged downturn in sales to grow over 10% YoY in 2018. In 2017, HD trucks sales share increased by 5.5% to 66.6% of global MD-HD trucks sales. This was a reversal of the trend of growing share of MD trucks in the past few years on account of recovery of HD truck demand in HD markets of China, NA, and Europe. This was predominantly on account of China market growth, which resulted in MD-HD truck sales touching record levels of 1.45 million units in 2017 with recovery in manufacturing, rapid infrastructure building activities, implementation of anti-loading regulations, as well as China V emission standards. In terms of new technology, electric powertrain and autonomous driving have emerged hot favorites. With prototype launches from a slew of conventional and new OEMs, full electric powertrain development is gathering industry attention. Daimler launched its Fuso eCanter MD truck and showcased its Urban e-truck concept. Volvo tested its hybrid vehicle for long haul applications. Cummins and Tesla showcased battery electric Class 7 and 8 prototypes respectively. Nikola and Toyota showcased fuel cell architectures for HD applications. Platooning is set to be commercialized in developed countries in 2018. Technology providers and OEMs will showcase higher levels of autonomous capabilities in different vocations, aided by safety regulations, and participants actively partnering with companies in the artificial intelligence and High Definition maps space. Freight technology solutions are also experiencing growth in the trucking industry with great interest among shippers and carriers in the adoption of supply chain visibility and orchestration solutions such as FourKites, MacroPoint, and 10-4. Adoption of these solutions is faster than digital brokerage solutions. On the OEM front, alongside the minority stake buy-in by VW, Navistar pulled ahead post the EGR fiasco, to record a comeback in the HD market, growing market share to nearly 11–12% in 2017. This growth in sales has translated to the first full year of profit that the company has had in the last few years. Some of the key trends to watch out for in 2018 will be the proliferation of supply chain orchestration solutions in the freight industry, developments in electric powertrain and autonomous driving technologies for commercial vehicle applications, alongside a slew of new product launches by truck OEMs which include Navistar's new A26 12.4L SCR engine, Scania's new P- and L-series, Volvo's new VNL series, Mack Anthem, Volvo FH and FM LNG, and several others.
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