THE MX, AND A NIFTY FIFTH WHEEL
February 10, 2010 Vol. 6, No. 3
Had a fine time in the balmy Pacific Northwest last week as I attended the official launch of the PACCAR MX engine in and around company headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. And reveled in seeing people on the streets in shirtsleeves as I made my twice-daily trek to the local Starbucks. Predictably, there were five of them within a block of my hotel.
On the business end of things, chairman and CEO Mark Pigott led the assembled press through a presentation of the company’s impressive financial record and noted that their investment in this engine over the last decade is about US$1 billion.
More than US$100 million of that sum was spent in matching engine test facilities at the company’s Technical Center in Mount Vernon, Wash. and the DAF engine plant in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. They have 42 engine test cells between them and engineers in both countries have worked in tandem to get this engine ready for North America. It’s already in service in some 125,000 DAF trucks, having been introduced in Europe several years ago.
I wrote about the new 12.9-litre MX in my last newsletter and said the first engines available in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks, as of some time this summer, would be built at the Eindhoven plant. The status of the company’s new engine-making facility in Columbus, Miss. was unclear at the time, but construction has indeed been completed, production machinery is being installed as we speak, and employees are being hired (see the pic below). That project is worth some US$400 million.
The first MX motors we see on this side of the Atlantic will be built in Eindhoven with final assembly done in Columbus until the latter is up and running later this year. The Dutch plant has a capacity of 240 engines a day while the Mississippi facility will start at 100 a day, with room to grow to 300 as market conditions demand. Foundry work will not move to North America, but block and head machining will be done here.
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