My responsibility is well-defined: collaborating with my team at Navistar, we’re actively involved in the development of innovative solutions and offerings concerning the utilization of Battery Electric Vehicles, commonly known as BEVs. Through these efforts, we aim to assist our customers in electrifying their fleets, thereby generating new business opportunities for Navistar. This comprehensive initiative encompasses training the sales team and adapting sales processes specifically for battery electric trucks and buses in North America, which is no small undertaking. Beyond catering to customers within the transport industry, it’s imperative to involve the dealer network in this significant transformation.

Our work involves a substantial amount of persuasion, as many people in the U.S. have yet to fully grasp the immense benefits of transitioning to electric drive systems. For example, replacing 10,000 existing diesel trucks with new vehicles equipped with fully electric drivetrains could potentially save up to one million tons of CO2 annually. However, our planning process must also factor in the diverse political requirements in the U.S. regarding CO2 regulations, which can vary greatly from state to state. For instance, in California, a significant milestone is set to take effect in 2035 with a comprehensive ban on the sale of all medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses powered by combustion engines. Between now and 2035, the state mandates a gradual increase in the proportion of battery-powered trucks, buses, vans and pickups compared to their internal combustion counterparts. This means in the next twelve years, commercial vehicles and buses in California will be required to be entirely emission-free at the tailpipe.

Stefan Sahlmann In Text 2
Here I am sitting at my desk at Navistar's headquarters in Lisle: we’re actively involved in the development of innovative solutions in relation to Battery Electric Vehicles, commonly known as BEVs. Through these efforts, we aim to assist our customers in electrifying their fleets, thereby generating new business opportunities for Navistar.

Offering customized solutions

In addition to scrutinizing the political and regulatory dimensions of emerging business sectors, our responsibility extends to providing hands-on support for our customers in a very practical way. This involves identifying applications that are already well-suited for commercial vehicles with battery-electric drives. Our aim is to furnish North American customers with needs-based solutions and guide them effectively as they embark on their journey on the path of e-mobility.

Playful curiosity and target-orientated drive

The working atmosphere within our EV team embodies the typical American spirit: marked by a high degree of openness, a willingness to exchange ideas with one another, and a collaborative ethos with the other TRATON GROUP brands and their experts. The TRATON spirit, which evokes the notion of being part of something bigger, is tangible everywhere in my team. With a blend of playful curiosity and the goal-oriented drive characteristic of a start-up, our team at Navistar is actively leveraging the experience of European TRATON brands such as Scania and MAN to support the electrification initiatives in North America. In doing so, we’re also assessing which solutions can be integrated into our market-specific portfolio and identify those which still need to be adapted.

A hotspot for creativity and innovation

Starting a project, testing it out and, if necessary, correcting, and adjusting mistakes – this pragmatic, swift, and playful way of working in the U.S. is a constant source of inspiration for me. Coupled with commitment to perfection and 110 percent theoretical groundwork that is commonly associated with us Germans, this quickly creates a hotspot for creativity and innovation. I am convinced that this unique blend will propel the future economic success of the TRATON GROUP, especially considering the willingness of Navistar colleagues to freely share information with their counterparts across TRATON GROUP brands. This is how I perceive it, and it’s what continually fascinates me.

Stefan Sahlmann at the Chicago Marathon
I was so excited about doing last year’s Chicago Marathon that I signed up to do it again this year. The confirmation for the starting place on 13 October 2024 has been received and training is now already underway.

From 2018 until late summer 2023, I served as Vice President Head of Transport Solutions at the TRATON brand, MAN, based in Munich. When I was given the opportunity to relocate to the United States as an expat, I embraced it after consulting with my family.

What advice would I give to colleagues aspiring to go abroad as an expat within a TRATON brand? They should be open to new situations and accepting of change. Whether it’s navigating the overwhelming product selection in the supermarket, adjusting to different home furnishings, or adapting to diverse work cultures – despite all the disparities from their home country – expats should refrain from making comparisons. Only then can their stay abroad be truly enriching.

Get to know the Chicago way of life

Regional cuisine serves as a gateway to exploring this new world for us. In Chicago, my family and I regularly have barbecues or visit our favorite burger restaurant, which is conveniently located just 500 meters from our townhouse on the shores of Lake Michigan. However, we also have a fondness for restaurants offering Mexican specialties on the menu. We rave about pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. Beyond culinary experiences, we actively seek opportunities to immerse ourselves in the vibrant Chicago lifestyle. For example, we watched the traditional Thanksgiving parade with all the decorated floats, huge balloons, and elaborately dressed visitors lining the roadside. Additionally, we’ve visited some of the historic buildings that can only be entered on the Open House Day – like the Trade Building with its historic armored vault. Very impressive.

On several occasions, we’ve also watched the Chicago Bulls, a top team in the NBA (North America’s professional basketball league) at the United Center. Soon, we plan to witness the Blackhawks in action, striving for goals in the U.S. professional ice hockey league. Our two children share the Americans’ enthusiasm for sports, and I’ve already caught the bug. I’ve also registered for the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2024, and it’s time to kickstart my training. The Lakefront near our home provides the perfect setting for this. Interestingly, my participation in the Chicago Marathon and my commitment to the electrification of transport in North America share common ground. Both endeavors demand willpower, goal-orientation, and perseverance – attributes that are essential for success on both sides of the pond!