Daimler Trucks North America is raising its sales projections 10 to 15 percentage points for 2011 as demand for its Freightliner brand heavy trucks remains strong.
The German-owned company's original projections had sales rising 20 to 25 percent this year over 2010. This week DTNA bumped that forecast up to 30 to 35 percent.
"We are expecting significant growth in the U.S. truck market this year, particularly in sales of trucks in Classes 6 to 8," said Daimler board member Andreas Renschler.
Truck orders have been building rapidly, leading to a 100,000-order backlog in North America in February, according to vehicle industry consultant ACT Research.
ACT Research said higher heavy truck demand reflects broad industry restocking and replacement of aging vehicles that weren't retired during the recession.
The high number of orders indicates a "self-sustaining recovery" is under way, said Sam Kahan, chief economist at the Columbus, Ind., truck market research firm.
Heavy truck orders actually slowed 11 percent in February, but remained high enough to keep truck plants humming well into 2011, according to ACT.
DTNA officials at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., attributed the uptick in demand to a significant increase in the demand for trucking services.
The Daimler truck unit said it plans to expand its production schedule and create about 1,300 jobs at its locations in the U.S. and Mexico in the first half of the year.
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