The two companies signed agreements in May that enable Freightliner to buy Ford’s technology, unique tooling, and assembly equipment for Ford’s heavy trucks. The transaction includes the Louisville/AeroMax trucks, Ford’s service parts business, and all remaining tooling for the predecessor Ford L-Series trucks and the Ford Cargo truck.
Teams from Ford and Freightliner have spent the last three months planning for the transfer. “Elements of the plan are already being shared with employees, dealers, customers, and suppliers of both Ford and Freightliner to ensure a smooth and seamless transfer from one company to the other,” said Jim Hebe, Freightliner president and ceo. “We will move in phases and conclude the transfer in March 1998.”
Freightliner’s St. Thomas, Ontario, truck manufacturing facility will be dedicated solely to the production of the HN80 series. Manufacture of the HN80 products at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, KY, will stop in December, and plans are being finalized to transfer assembly equipment from there to St. Thomas, where HN80 production is expected to begin in 1998.Freightliner expects to begin production of the Ford Cargo truck early next year. Assembly equipment for the low cabover Class 6-8 truck will be installed at Freightliner’s manufacturing plant in Mt. Holly, NC, and Freightliner plans to distribute the Cargo in the U.S., Canada and Mexico through select Ford and Freightliner dealers.
According to Hebe, dealers are being contacted by Ford and Freightliner to explain logistics of the transition and that Freightliner will soon offer new contracts to Ford Heavy Duty Truck dealers. The company is also looking to enlist the services of experienced Ford employees.