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PORTLAND, Ore. — Freightliner LLC, maker of heavy-duty trucks, has confirmed that it is lowering production and cutting its workforce.

The cuts will happen at its Portland, Ore., truck and truck-parts manufacturing facilities, the company says in a press release.

In the release, Freightliner president and chief executive officer Jim Hebe points to “a combination of high fuel prices, higher interest rates and a general economic slowdown” as having “led to a significant decline in orders for heavy-duty trucks over the past year. Net orders for heavy-duty trucks decreased 38 per cent in 2000.”

Freightliner says it expects North American heavy-duty truck sales to decrease by as much as 45 per cent in 2001.

The company goes on to say that, on March 30, it will discontinue second shift operations at the Portland Truck Plant and Portland Parts Plant.

A total of 1,085 employees will be affected. The affected employees today received advanced notice of the impending workforce reduction. With the reduction in force, employment at the Portland Truck and Parts Manufacturing Plants will move from 2,242 to 1,157 employees. The production rate will go from 74 to 35 trucks per day.

It noted that “sales are currently slower in the Western U.S. and Canada.”

“We regret having to take this action,” Hebe said. “We have made every effort to avoid further production cuts and layoffs, but high fuel prices and economic weakness continue to depress the demand for heavy-duty trucks in North America.”

Freightliner currently employs a total of 3,994 people in Portland.

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