Editorial: Joining Forces for the Future

Journalists love it when big news breaks. As last week drew to a close, two significant deals involving major players in the commercial truck industry made headlines and landed on the front page of the April 1 issue of Transport Topics.

Both announcements indicate that industry heavyweights have an eye on the future.

The $7.1 billion acquisition of Wabco by Germany’s ZF brings together two major component suppliers who combined have a significant presence across a vast swath of commercial transportation. The combination of Wabco’s safety technologies, braking systems and other products with ZF’s driveline business and automated driving technologies seems like a natural fit and positions both for growth.

During a media event last summer, ZF’s leader told reporters from around the globe that integrated safety systems had become a “major topic,” and he discussed the company’s development of interior concepts designed around occupant safety. The company also showcased some of its automated driving technology, and discussed networking solutions that integrate steering, braking and electric power. Now, the company controls a key developer of active safety systems and braking technology.

A similar marriage of complementary technologies can be seen in the deal Daimler Trucks struck to acquire a majority stake in Torc Robotics, a developer of automated driving systems. Torc has many years of experience under its belt in the development of self-driving technology, for everything from passenger vehicles to off-road equipment. Now, it will work with Daimler to propel the truck manufacturer’s goal of advancing automated driving for the freight transportation industry.

Bringing Torc into the fold gives Daimler another piece of that next-generation puzzle it has been building. The manufacturer already has unveiled electric-powered versions of its medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and with Torc it now has a partner to help bring higher levels of automated driving to its vehicle lineup as well.

We don’t think any of these developments occur in a vacuum, and know we’re not alone in seeing a future in which automation and electric power could work in concert with safety technology and myriad other — perhaps as yet unimagined — onboard systems. The companies attached to these deals are taking steps to ensure they’re ready for what lies ahead. And the products they create are poised to carry the business of trucking forward as well.