Karin Rådström at Busworld exhibition 2017 Kortrijk, Belgium Photo: Peggy Bergman 2017

A key Daimler Trucks global executive, says she sees promising signs of moving past the prolonged chip shortage that has troubled automotive manufacturers across the world.

Karin Radstrom, the boss of the Mercedes-Benz Trucks brand, and who also leads the truck maker’s business in Europe and South America, said in an interview  that after months of factory outages due to the component shortfalls, the order backlog is keeping factories busy even as the global economy shows signs of sputtering,

Radstrom said that the world’s biggest truck maker has so far also evaded disruption from coronavirus lockdowns in China.

“It’s better, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than last year, I try to not celebrate too early, we’re still monitoring the situation closely,” Radstrom said in the interview.

Daimler Truck, which  controls Mercedes, Freightliner, Western Star and Fuso brands globally and its Swedish based competitor, Volvo Group have both had to curtail output as struggled to  source enough of the high-tech components globally as demand for transport boomed.

Radstrom’s statement mirrors the assessment of the  production chief  for Mercedes-Benz  cars, Joerg Burzer, who said the chip crunch was no longer causing serious production stoppages.

The global shortage of trucks contributed to a jump in shipping rates as companies raced to restore depleted inventories. While warnings over the health of the global economy are intensifying, Radstrom said there was no signs yet of a slowdown in truck manufacturing, typically a sector that’s sensitive to downturns.

“There’s still very, very high demand relative to supply, despite the changes in the economy, we don’t see any downturn in demand. It can change very quickly, however,” Radstrom said.

Daimler Truck, which split from Mercedes car operations last year,  says it is working to improve margins after historically struggling to turn its unrivaled industrial scale into returns matching the likes of  rivals Volvo and Paccar.

Meanwhile, electric vehicle specialists including Tesla and Nikola are plotting inroads into the trucking market amid the global crackdown on transport emissions.

Daimler Truck’s zero-emission strategy focuses on developing battery-powered trucks for shorter journeys and hydrogen fuel cell models for longer stretches. The manufacturer last year started production of its electric eActros in Germany. Orders for battery trucks rose to 619 in the first quarter of 2022 compared to 169 in the same period of 2021.

“Infrastructure has to be sped up, we also need to know where the electricity and green hydrogen will come from. I’m in favor of carbon pricing to speed it up,” ” Radstrom said of challenges facing the company’s push to accelerate its electrification strategy.