DTNA exec says trucking's green future will require partnerships, multiple technologies

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Updated Mar 7, 2024
Mary Aufdemberg from DTNA speaks at Green Truck Summit
DTNA's Mary Aufdemberg, general manager of product strategy and marketing development, provides the keynote address at the Green Truck Summit Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Transportation’s transition to clean, green trucks is well underway. The finish line may be unknown, but the path forward is not.

Speaking Tuesday at the Green Truck Summit as part of Work Truck Week in Indianapolis, Daimler Truck’s Mary Aufdemberg, general manager of product strategy and marketing development, said this is not transportation’s first fuel and propulsion revolution. Rudolf Diesel’s landmark invention upended transportation and the fledgling vehicle market when it was introduced more than a century ago. The first diesel trucks were tested by DTNA’s namesake founders 100 years ago last fall.

“Power has changed in the transportation industry since the beginning of time. And this includes the diesel engine,” said Aufdemberg.

The drive toward zero emissions and sustainability may mean the introduction of new propulsion technologies, but Aufdemberg said that doesn’t mean the end of the diesel engine or internal combustion technologies. The formula for carbon neutrality in transportation isn’t solved. Aufdemberg said DTNA is considering all factors that could lead to solutions, adding “we know clean diesel will be an important part of this equation. In this generation [of vehicles] and the next.”

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As such, she said DTNA is investing everywhere, dedicating resources to different power and propulsion solutions — and the vital infrastructure they require — so as trucking’s drive toward zero continues, DTNA will remain well positioned as a market leader.

“We’re in the middle of our industry’s biggest transformation,” Aufdemberg said. “Diesel, battery, hydrogen; it’s all part of the equation. We don’t know exactly which technology will be in which truck, and by when. I think we’re all waiting for that answer.”

She added, “Our goal at Daimler is to move at the speed of right … We don’t still have all the answers but we are working on the solutions.”

Aufdemberg said one area where DTNA is working hard is partnerships. She said the OEM has learned throughout its battery electric journey that developing infrastructure is vital to technology adoption. She said DTNA has experienced instances where customers wanted to buy electric trucks but couldn’t get charging in place to receive the units. And that problem isn’t unique. Other OEMs have hit the same speed bump, which is why DTNA partnered with Navistar and Volvo Trucks North America on the Powering America’s Commercial Transportation (PACT) partnership.

[RELATED: Daimler Truck, Volvo Trucks and Navistar ink battery truck 'PACT']

“We know a larger effort needs to be made to continue down the path to sustainability,” she said.

DTNA is working hard with its dealer base as well. Aufdemberg publicly announced DTNA’s new certified EV dealer program Tuesday, which she said will enable the company’s dealer network to get up to speed on EV technologies, sales and service in advance of supporting the new equipment in the field. And Aufdemberg said as of this week, Freightliner’s eCascadia product has more than 5 million miles logged in customer operations, so dealers do feel pressure to get up to speed on the technology fast.

“We want to make sure what we deliver [to customers] has the same trust and promise as our diesel products,” she said.

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