Daimler Truck grew second-quarter sales by 92% over the pandemic-impacted year-ago quarter but warned that a shortage of semiconductors could persist for the rest of the year, limiting growth as the Daimler AG unit prepares to become a stand-alone company.

But Daimler Truck CEO Martin Daum was upbeat about both the quarter and the outlook for the rest of the year.

“In the second quarter, truck sales increased compared to the first quarter and sales grew significantly compared to the previous year’s level across all core regions,” Daum said in a call with European analysts, expected to be his last as part of Daimler AG. “Without supply shortages, it could have been more.”

Daimler Trucks & Buses as a group increased revenue by 61% to 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion). Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose by 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion) from minus 746 million euros (negative $879.5 million) to 831 million euros ($9.8 million).

Daimler Truck’s adjusted EBIT benefited from its financial investment in electric bus, battery and infrastructure developer Proterra Inc. (NASDAQ: PTRA), which went public after concluding a business combination with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) ArcLight Clean Transition Corp., and the sale of a plant in Brazil.

Material costs and supply constraints

Higher material costs, specifically for steel, and supply constraints held back what could have been a much better quarter, Daum said. But he said ongoing restructuring is improving efficiency.

“On the fixed-cost side, we made the extraordinary situation last year the new normal,” Daum said.

Daimler is holding off on opening order books for 2022 because the backlog of trucks yet to be produced is “on an exceptionally high level,” and commodity prices remain elevated and volatile.

“Once we are locked on the pricing side, the raw material risk goes over to us, and we all want to avoid a similar burden that we had to cover this year,” Daum said. “The order books are full and the supply side will ultimately determine the 2021 sales numbers. We are literally sold out for this year in North America, as well as in Europe. Demand is still very strong.”

Electric trucks and infrastructure

Daimler Truck, TRATON Group and Volvo Group signed a nonbinding agreement earlier in July to install and operate a high-performance public charging network for battery-electric heavy-duty long-haul trucks and coaches across Europe.

Spending $593 million to build up a charging infrastructure will accelerate adoption of battery-powered commercial trucks and make customers more confident about transitioning to climate-neutral transportation, the companies said in the July 5 announcement.

Daimler Truck on June 30 launched the battery-powered Mercedes-Benz eActros heavy-duty truck in several European markets. In the U.S., Daimler Trucks North America is taking orders for the Class 8 heavy-duty Freightliner eCascadia and Class 6 eM2 medium-duty trucks for delivery in 2022. 

DTNA in April opened an “Electric Island” charging area in Portland, Oregon, that will eventually support 1 megawatt charging for trucks.

Daimler Truck expects to list as a separate entity on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in December.

Related articles:

Major truck manufacturers plan European electric charging network

Truck-focused Electric Island charging site opens in Portland, Oregon

Daimler Trucks invests in Proterra’s electrification SPAC

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