Caterpillar goes its own way to continue truck line

Caterpillar goes its own way to continue truck line

It’s the beginning of the end for the nearly six-year truck-building partnership between Caterpillar Inc. and Navistar, as the heavy equipment maker expects to start building vocational trucks on its own beginning next year.

The company noted that it will begin independently designing and manufacturing its CT line of vocational models at its plant in Victoria, TX; a facility that originally opened in 2012 to produce hydraulic excavators. Navistar currently manufactures those trucks at its Escobedo, Mexico, plant.

“The on-highway vocational truck product family is important to our product line; customers like our trucks and want to include them in their fleets in a variety of heavy duty applications such as dump trucks, mixers, haulers or one of the other configurations we offer,” noted Chris Chadwick, director of the Caterpillar’s global on-highway truck group, said in a statement. “Our updated strategy reaffirms our commitment to grow and develop our presence in the vocational truck industry moving forward.”

Caterpillar partnered with Navistar back in 2009 to build what became a three-truck product line for the North American market, starting with the CT660 in 2011 and finishing up with the CT680 back in March this year.

“We appreciate the collaboration we have had with Navistar,” Chadwick said. “As we look to future launches of new truck models, this updated strategy will better position us to help provide our customers with the best products and services for this market.

The company added that the “transition process” will begin immediately, with truck production at the Victoria factory expected to begin in the first half of 2016. Caterpillar added that it will continue to produce excavators at the Victoria plant, adding around 200 new jobs at the facility to handle truck manufacturing needs.

Chadwick added that Caterpillar dealers will continue to sell and support Cat vocational trucks as well.

The Wall Street Journal noted that sales of Caterpillar’s vocational truck have only numbered around 1,000 annually; a number Caterpillar hopes to boost significantly by bringing production of those vehicles in-house.

The newspaper added that company also plans to build its own line of truck engines to power its CT models – a line of business it exited back in 2008 due to the imposition of restrictive federal exhaust emission standards.

For its part, Navistar said it plans to launch a new line of “premium vocational trucks” in early 2016, leveraging “shared technology, intellectual property, supplier collaboration and licensing agreements” developed during its partnership with Caterpillar.

“Navistar and Caterpillar have had a strong, collaborative working relationship through a number of projects and partnerships for many, many years,” noted Bill Kozek, president of Navistar Truck and Parts, in a statement.

“This next phase provides Navistar with an exciting opportunity to introduce new technologies and product features into our new line of premium vocational trucks that we’ll launch in 2016,” he added.

Kozek also stressed that Navistar will continue to manufacture trucks for Caterpillar through December 31 of next year as Caterpillar brings its Victoria, TX, plant up to full speed.

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