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Navistar dedicates heavy-duty engine plant

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The business sections of most newspapers may be bursting with doom and gloom these days, but that didn't deter Navistar from celebrating the dedication of its Class 8 engine plant h...


IN PRODUCTION: The big bore International MaxxForce engine is now rolling off the production line at Navistar's Huntsville, Ala. plant.
IN PRODUCTION: The big bore International MaxxForce engine is now rolling off the production line at Navistar's Huntsville, Ala. plant.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The business sections of most newspapers may be bursting with doom and gloom these days, but that didn’t deter Navistar from celebrating the dedication of its Class 8 engine plant here in September.

It was a refreshing dose of good news, as the company dedicated a massive high-tech engine plant as part of its 75th anniversary as a diesel engine manufacturer.

The International MaxxForce 11-and 13-litre engines will be built at this 300,000 sq.-ft. plant, which was constructed last year.

“Since we announced our plans in 2005, these new engines have commanded the attention of the heavy truck industry,” Navistar Engine Group president Jack Allen told a gathering of nearly 600 customers, OEMs, plant employees and members of the press. “Now, these advanced products, the culmination of our 75 years of diesel leadership, will command the respect of heavy truck owners and drivers as they deliver on their promise.”

Huntsville was chosen as the site for the engine plant thanks to a cooperative government, strong workforce and an adjacent existing Navistar plant which builds V6 and V8 engines for light-duty vehicles, buses and RVs.

“Huntsville was selected to produce these new big bore diesel engines because of the talented and dedicated workforce here and its clear track record of building high-quality engines at a competitive cost,” Allen said to a crowd that included Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

The well-lit (and even air conditioned) plant has the capacity to build 30,000 MaxxForce engines per year with one shift active, company officials explained at the gathering.

The MaxxForce 11 and 13 are offered only on International ProStar, TranStar and WorkStar trucks and will also be available on the newest member of the International family, the LoneStar.

The engine is 400 lbs lighter than competitive models, Navistar officials claim, and has earned a reputation for being quiet and responsive.

The first Class 8 MaxxForce engine was delivered to a customer in Minnesota earlier this year.

Navistar officials also took the opportunity to provide an update on their current performance. Daniel Ustian, Navistar president, chairman and CEO, said the company’s goal is to control 60% market share in the bus industry, 40% in the medium-duty segment and 20% of the Class 8 market in Canada and the US.

He said when averaged out through the three segments, Navistar has achieved its goal.

It has now turned its attention to recapturing market share in those segments where it falls short, such as in the medium-duty segment where its piece of the market has slipped to about 36-37%, Ustian said.

In Canada, Ustian said Navistar enjoys a slightly higher market share than in the US.

He also said the truck market is not as soft in Canada as it is south of the border. Allen attributed this to the strength of the energy market.

“The energy aspect of the Canadian market is one of those things that is keeping the market stronger there,” he said. Ustian added the lumber and reefer segments remain strong in Canada. He also said the current credit crisis does not immediately threaten Navistar’s operations.


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