Globalization is nothing new in the car industry, with automakers often seeking to adapt a single platform for multiple markets, increasing economies of scale, and reducing complexity. Now, that same trend is occurring in the heavy truck market, according to an article from Fleet Owner.
However, obstacles and challenges are present in the commercial truck sector that aren't as big a factor for cars. The predominant cab configuration for Europe and Asia is the cabover design, in which the cockpit is placed directly over the engine, resulting in a shorter overall length, but generally having a higher noise level and rougher ride. Since the change of government regulations in 1976 allowing for longer overall lengths, cabovers have fallen out of favor in the U.S. with the front-engine "conventional" designs overwhelmingly preferred by U.S. truck drivers.
The article forecasts more vertical integration, with more components produced and sourced in-house, most notably engines, transmissions, and axles, parts currently sourced from outside vendors for many models. This trend also runs contrary to the traditional "a la carte" ordering for heavy trucks in which customers can select almost any engine or transmission for any brand of truck.
Finally, the article also predicts downsizing of engines for U.S. heavy trucks. The current average engine size for U.S. trucks is 14.1 liters, with the average for European heavy trucks coming in at 12 liters. Expectations are that the average engine size in U.S. trucks will fall to between 12.8 and 13.2 liters by 2018. However, as with cars, specific output on truck engines is rising, allowing for the same amount of power out of smaller displacement.