November 4, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 22
For what is normally a ‘slow’ period in our beleaguered industry, things are actually hopping. No surprise, of course, given the pressures to trim and cut back and stay alive while still trying to see a way forward. And for the moment at least, truck manufacturing is going full tilt.
I spent a couple of days last week with the Peterbilt folks at the Paccar plant in Ste. Therese, Quebec where the new Models 337 and 348 are being built. Kenworth medium-duty trucks are built there as well. The plant is sold out for the rest of the year, every production slot filled. Nobody knows how it will look in Q1 2010, of course, but that Paccar plant is like every other one I know of — working to capacity. The only problem, a predictable one, is that some components and parts are in short supply because the dramatic upturn in the last month or two hasn’t been matched at the component supplier level after earlier cutbacks.
There’s another sort of action on the OEM front too. For instance, a couple of weeks back I wondered aloud about the implications of Freightliner’s introduction of the Coronado SD, a heavy vocational truck that seemed to compete more or less directly with corporate cousin Western Star. Left unsaid was the notion that Star could conceivably be cut adrift from the Daimler family.
Canadians especially have a soft spot for this brand, given its northern roots, its popularity amongst western log and lumber haulers, and the fact that it was built in Kelowna, British Columbia until a few years back. With production first moved to Portland, Oregon, then on to Mexico, it did seem as if Western Star was potentially at risk.
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