Like most European Commercial Vehicle manufacturers, DAF Trucks was preparing for Brexit, then along came COVID-19. At this stage it is difficult to know what the final impact of either crisis will be. DAF Trucks is well and truly still on track to ride out any potential storm, according to James Turner, Product & Legislation Manager at DAF Trucks UK, who gave Fleet Transport the inside track.
For 25 years DAF Trucks has achieved the status as market leader in the UK, a position, the Dutch brand is very proud of and is always working hard to maintain. 2019 production at its Leyland factory reached 19,500 units, of which 7,000 were exported. Included in that figure were 1,300 CKDs (knock-down kit form) mainly for the North American market and supplied to sister brand Peterbilt. While production was halted for most of April and returned on a limited basis a few weeks later, full production had resumed by the end of May. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis most of the DAF dealer network remained open for repairs and parts supply, and at all times its Roadside call out service was maintained in Ireland and the UK. Looking to the future, James Turner said the order book gives them confidence: “No doubt we face challenges, the Coronavirus has not gone away and Brexit is also facing us. When we look back at the financial crisis of 2009/2010, we saw a steady recovery there, so I am confident that we can trade through the current challenges.” Across all the applications DAF Trucks supply to, it has maintained a 33% market share YTD.
Brexit will no doubt bring challenges, it is clear that there will be trade tariffs in place and also some uncertainty about exchange volatility, it is hoped that most EU vehicle regulations around type approval and general safety regulations will remain unchanged. While all of these difficulties will be the same for all manufacturers and distributors, DAF Trucks is leaving nothing to chance. James’ role has been expanded to cover ‘Legislation’. This means that he has taken on the responsibility within the company for spotting any anomalies and changes before they arise.
Something that will face all markets is the general need to further lower emissions and improve the air quality in Europe. James is very excited about the use of HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil), as an alternative fuel. “It improves air quality, compatible with all engines and easy to distribute. With a 90% reduction in CO2 levels it can be blended with regular diesel,” he said.
So the message is clear, whatever Brexit or COVID-19 throws at the industry, DAF Trucks will be there standing firm with operators. Sean Murtagh