CAT GOES TRUCKIN’ AGAIN

April 8, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 7

Hey, there’s big news to report from deep in the American heartland, namely Illinois. You’ll remember that Caterpillar and Navistar announced last June that they were going to join forces to build a vocational truck for North America and trucks plural for international markets. Well, they’ve inked a couple of deals and this one’s a go.

They will indeed build a heavy, on/off-road vocational truck for North American market applications like mining, logging, oilfield, earth moving, and construction. A Caterpillar truck, to be sold and serviced exclusively by the Cat distributor network. This part of the deal between the two companies is being called “a strategic alliance.”

The truck will come with Cat engines, no less. But they’ll actually be International MaxxForce motors branded Cat, in 11-, 13- and 15-liter capacities. And presumably painted yellow. But wait, that 15-liter MaxxForce 15 is a Cat anyway, right? Well, as I’ve been saying since February, it will combine the block and heads of the Cat C15 with International/MAN air and fuel management to meet 2010 emissions regs via EGR. This is going to get confusing.

The new Caterpillar truck, with model name yet to be chosen, will be manufactured in Navistar’s Garland, Texas plant, which used to be the home of Marmon Motors. It’s also the source of the cool International CXT pickup. Not to mention the 1300 trucks the Canadian military recently ordered. And more significantly, it’s where the big International Paystar severe-service truck has been built since it was moved from International’s Chatham, Ontario plant a few years ago.

Won’t they compete with each other, these two trucks? I asked that question in a telephone press conference yesterday.

“Yes, there might be some level of overlap,” said Navistar spokesman Steve Schrier. “But we continue to grow and develop the Paystar. The Paystar will continue.”

George Taylor, general manager of Cat’s global on-highway department, added that the two will be differentiated. The Cat truck will have an all-aluminum cab with Cat-developed components and electronics, for example, he said. That cab remains a little vague at this point, as do other aspects of the new truck, but it will be built by Navistar and will be at least loosely based on the International 5000 Paystar cab.

Given the enormous number and great depth of relationships Cat has with the vocational world, my guess is that the Paystar has some serious competition coming up on its tail.

When? Well, Taylor said “…the engineers are already well underway with this,” and they promise trucks on the street in late 2010 with full production in the first half of 2011. There will be several models with both set-forward and set-back front axles.

Much sooner than that, a new 50/50 joint venture between the two companies will see a truck for certain international markets – namely Australia, Brazil, China, Russia, South Africa, and Turkey. Those are places where one or both of the partners has band strength and an established distribution network. Trucks built for these countries, in both conventional and cabover form, could be branded either Cat or Navistar or both, depending on factors like local brand penetration. The first truck under this JV banner could be ready as early as the third quarter of this year, says International’s Phil Christman, president of Navistar’s Global Truck Operations.

That’s about all the detail I have at the moment, but watch this digital space.

Exciting, eh?

SAME COULD BE SAID FOR DAIMLER’S INNOVATION TRUCK that was on display at the Mid-America extravaganza. Sporting advanced technologies from Daimler Trucks North America’s development engineers, it starts as a Cascadia and adds a few serious advancements with an eye to enhanced fuel economy.

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.


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