Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) said today in a statement that it is in the process of notifying approximately 1,300 production workers across its North American manufacturing facilities of  potential layoffs, due to what the OEM termed “softening of economic conditions.”

The company stressed that it would make the final decision to lay off workers only after all other solutions are exhausted.

During the course of 2012, DTNA said the North American commercial vehicle industry faced tremendous uncertainty though the market grew 15% over 2011.

Indeed, Martin Daum, DTNA president and CEO, noted during press briefing last October at the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) annual management conference and exhibition in Las Vegas that though Class 8 orders were robust at the start of 2012, they softened from spring into fall to drop “significantly below average.”

Calling himself “cautiously optimistic” about 2013 at the time, Daum expressed  confidence the pressure of deferred replacement by fleets would help boost demand over the long term. “We don't know when [the higher sales will start], only that they will start one day,” he said.

DTNA reiterated that “cautious optimism” in its statement today, adding that market conditions will improve throughout 2013.

“Our flexible, highly scalable manufacturing operations will be ready to react to immediately recall workers impacted by the potential layoff,” DTNA said.

“[Our] cautious optimism, despite slower economic and freight growth this year, is driven by the extreme age of the truck population in North America,” the company added. “Presently, the average age of a Class 8 truck is beyond its normal operational lifecycle which leads to increased maintenance costs [and] DTNA is well positioned to capitalize on aging equipment replacement needs.”