Caterpillar’s go-it-alone vocational truck series will be virtually identical to current Cat Trucks for some time, using the same components as now until changes come about in the future, executives told HDT/Truckinginfo in an interview Tuesday. Earlier in the day, the company announced it will end the manufacturing agreement that has Navistar building the trucks at its plant in Escobedo, Mexico.
“Initially they will be exactly the same as the trucks produced by Navistar today,” explained Ron Schultz, sales and product support manager. That should continue for the first 12 to 18 months after production begins sometime next year at Cat’s plant in Texas.
It means continued use of the Navistar-supplied 12.4-liter CT13 diesel, as well as the cab and chassis whose designs were adapted from components shared with the International PayStar.
No Cat Engines
“We anticipate that an announcement on a 15-liter engine will be made soon,” said Dave Schmitz, vocational truck product manager, repeating a statement of several months ago. But “Caterpillar has no plans to get back into the truck-engine market,” so the source of that engine remains confidential.
“Velocity and speed to market for changes, and better ability to respond to customer requests” for improvements comprise the reason for the shift to Cat producing the truck itself, said Chris Chadwick, director of Caterpillar’s Global On-Highway Truck Group. However, Caterpillar was not unhappy with the Navistar relationship, and the supplier agreement remains in force.
"Made in America" sentiment did not enter into the decision to pull assembly into the U.S., "but it's a plus," said Chadwick.
Navistar will continue building Cat Trucks until the end of 2016, and during that time Cat will begin phasing in its own truck production at a plant in Victoria, Texas, north of Corpus Christi. The plant opened in 2012 to produce hydraulic excavators, and will be equipped and 200 workers added to build the Cat on/off-road vocational product line.
Cat wants to expand the Cat Truck line into more applications, particularly for versions powered by the upcoming 15-liter diesel, Chadwick said. Cat dealers who sell and service the trucks will remain vital to the endeavor.
Navistar: 'Niche Product'
For Navistar, the Cat Truck was “a niche product, maybe 1,000 or 1,100 a year,” said spokesman Steve Schrier. Navistar’s plans for a new “premium” line of International severe-service trucks, which the company announced today, might be revealed later this year or next year.,
“We were in that premium vocational market years ago, but we left it after we had no 15-liter engine,” Schrier explained, when Navistar decided not to use the Cummins ISX15 with SCR in 2010 and later dropped its own 15-liter. “Now that we have a 15-liter [from Cummins] again, we’ll go back to it. And of course we’ll still use our own N13 engine.”
The collaboration with Cat gained Navistar access to design knowledge about premium details, including cab interior components, that could be used in the upcoming International model, Schrier said. He declined to add more specific details.
Updated 4:30 EDT 7/28/2015 to add additional comments from Navistar officials.