Changes May Affect Vocational Models

Trucks Article December 28, 2000
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Navistar International Corp. has taken a new approach to
supplying the construction industry with its Paystar severe
service trucks and tractors. The most visible change saw
production of the rugged International 5000 Series Paystars
moved out of a Navistar assembly plant in Chatham, Ontario, and
sent to the assembly facility of SST Truck Co., a joint venture
of the Garland, Texas-based truck producer TIC United Corp. and
Navistar. Many of Navistar's other truck lines continue in
production at Chatham. The Garland facility had been the home of
Marmon trucks.

While best known for their work in the
construction field, 5000 Series Paystars are used on- and
off-highway in such severe service applications as snow plowing,
coal hauling and as tow trucks.

Producing the Paystar line
in the Lone Star State was termed a key element in Navistar's
plan to focus truck facilities to help meet increased demand for
the company's popular line of severe service vehicles.

"You
can see that the Chatham plant could hardly be expected to focus
on Paystar production at the rate of six units a day while also
turning out 94 on-highway trucks per day," said Jack Allen,
Navistar's vice president for heavy truck business. "We are
excited about the opportunites the recent changes deliver."

Production in the Garland facility started in February and is
now being reved up to eight trucks per day. "Paystar trucks are
best assembled in a plant dedicated to building this one type of
truck," said David J. Johanneson, Navistar's group vice
president for truck business.

Without tipping his hand on
exactly what lies ahead, Allen said additional sophisticated
products can be expected from the Garland factory by the end of
1998. "We have a very large facility here and some fine
workmen," Allen said. "We see some great growth opportunities
ahead."

The successful joint venture in Garland was termed a
major component in Navistar's strategy to be more competitive by
focusing its assembly facilities on producing trucks with less
variation from model to model. "We're making steady progress as
we reduce product complexity and produce trucks more efficiently
to meet marketplace demand," Johanneson added.

Ford-Freightliner details

Sale of the Ford heavy truck
business to Freightliner Corp. has been approved by the American
and Canadian governments, leading to a massive reshuffling of
vehicle assembly work. Production of Ford Louisville vocational
and AeroMax over-the-road models, designated HN80 trucks, will
be moved from Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP) to
Freightliner's St. Thomas, Ontario, factory. The two lines are
the heart of what's new in big trucks from Ford. The St. Thomas
plant makes Freightliner FLD models, which will be relocated to
another Freightliner facility.

Ford Cargo tilt-cab models in
weight classes 6-8 will go into production early next year at
Freightliner's Mt. Holly, N.C., factory. Mt. Holly has been
making Business Class models. A new corporate office for HN80
models will be set up in Cleveland.

"We consider these site
selections and production adjustments to be critical steps in
the transition," said James L. Hebe, Freightliner president and
CEO.

When its heavy trucks are moved out, KTP, the world's
largest truck plant, will build the heavier light-duty Ford
trucks as well as medium-duty models along with some
as-yet-unnamed Ford products.

The Paystar and Freightliner
moves could add up to a double dose of attention for the
so-called vocational models, such as dump trucks and others used
in kindred specialized applications, such as construction work.
The focused approach to Paystar models at Navistar is bound to
give extra emphasis to those models.

When news of the
Freightliner purchase of the Ford heavy truck business was first
announced it was reported that a key Freightliner aim was to
pick up the vocational truck expertise of Ford factory people
and a key portion of the line's dealers.

The Freightliner
campaign to diversify its offerings moved another step ahead
just before the company announced where it will be building the
heavy trucks acquired from Ford. It was announced that the first
Eagle fire truck from the reconstituted American LaFrance
company had rolled off a Freightliner assembly line in
Cleveland, N.C. Freightliner acquired American LaFrance, which
was not active in business at the time, in 1995. A large number
of Eagles have been ordered by fire departments around the
nation and in Canada.

Kelley is a truck writer based in
Dearborn, Mich. You may write to him in care of the editor

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