International Desk

Navistar inaugurates Mexico plant Navistar International Corp. has opened its new truck-assembly plant in Mexico. Located in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon, the $167-million facility is the OEM's first new assembly operation in 20 years. The 700,000-sq.-ft. plant went up in just 12 months and will produce trucks and buses for sale in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. "The new plant will enable us to continue

Navistar inaugurates Mexico plant Navistar International Corp. has opened its new truck-assembly plant in Mexico. Located in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon, the $167-million facility is the OEM's first new assembly operation in 20 years. The 700,000-sq.-ft. plant went up in just 12 months and will produce trucks and buses for sale in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. "The new plant will enable us to continue providing customers in Mexico and Latin America with the highest quality vehicles and service," said Navistar chairman John R. Horne. "We are driven to better serve new and current customers, many of whom operate in Mexico and require a complete production, sales, and service network closer to where they do business," he added. The facility is set up to turn out up to 65 vehicles per shift, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks and urban buses. Vehicles assembled in Escobedo will use International-brand diesel engines manufactured at the OEM's Melrose Park, Ill., factory and cab assemblies stamped at its Springfield, Ohio, plant. Even so, Navistar said the trucks will meet Mexico's 50% local-content requirement. Navistar's Mexican market share has jumped this year to 19.1% -- up from 12.2% last year. The company reaches customers in Mexico via a 42-location dealer network and a parts-distribution center near Mexico City. Attending the recent inauguration of the plant was Mexico's Secretary of Commerce and Industrial Promotion, Herminio Blanco.

Daimler's buying spree If the news that it will engineer the largest industrial takeover ever by merging with Chrysler Corp. weren't enough, Germany's Daimler-Benz AG is reportedly negotiating to buy into the truck side of Japan's Nissan Motor Co. Last month, Daimler-Benz announced it will acquire Chrysler in a $36-billion stock swap. The merger will create anew German-incorporated company, Daimler-Chrysler AG, which will open shop as the world's fifth-biggest vehicle manufacturer. At presstime, the Daimler-Nissan talks were still hush-hush. Speculation on the outcome runs the gamut from Daimler merely licensing technology from Nissan to acquiring an interest in the OEM's truck business. According to an early report in The New York Times, Nissan said it will provide Daimler with Datsun pickup technology for use in the German firm's Brazilian plant. In addition, both companies confirmed the possibility that Daimler may purchase a hefty chunk of Nissan's 39.8% stake in Nissan Diesel Motor Co. Nissan Diesel, Japan's fourth-largest truck maker, produces the Class 3-7 UD Trucks line sold here. And The Wall Street Journal reported the two OEMs are negotiating an "alliance" to jointly develop, build, and sell commercial vehicles. What's more, Nissan president Yoshikazu Hanawa said that if an equity agreement is reached over the truck operation, Nissan would not sell its entire share -- but Nissan Diesel would become part of the Daimler operating group.

Hendrickson springing abroad Woodridge, Ill.-based Hendrickson Components is expanding its spring operations in both Europe and South America, according to president Keith Stephenson. To increase its presence in Europe, Hendrickson will take a minority interest in Spain's Muelles y Ballestas Hispano-Alemanas SA (MBHA), which produces parabolic, air-beam, and multi-leaf springs for such OEMs as Daimler, Iveco, Scania, and Renault. Stephenson said Hendrickson will actively participate in MBHA, which is owned by the Ruiz family and Japan's NHK Corp. Plans call for jointly marketing leaf springs in areas MBHA serves. Stephenson also reported Hendrickson has completed "an alliance, marketing, and technology agreement" with Rassini NHK Autopecas. The largest spring maker in South America, the firm is a joint venture of Mexico's Rassini Autopartes and NHK Corp. Hendrickson will jointly develop and market leaf springs and other suspension components to customers including Daimler, Ford, Scania, and Volvo.

What's Dutch, French, and English... According to a report in the British magazine Truck, Paccar, the parent company of Kenworth and Peterbilt, is planning to import a Class 5-6 truck for distribution-type service under development by Paccar's DAF Trucks subsidiary. The new model will result from a cooperative effort between Holland-based DAF and Renault V.I. of France. Adding still more Euro flavor, it is expected that DAF's English partner, Leyland Trucks, will assemble the vehicles.

Meritor unites South Africa ops To consolidate all its on-highway business activities in the Union of South Africa into one centralized location, Meritor Heavy Vehicle Systems has formed Meritor Automotive (Pty) Ltd. The new, wholly owned company is housed in a two-story office/warehouse building located near the Johannesburg airport. The facility boasts a new aftermarket operation headed by Roberto del Corso.

Dana opens German office In the first of what it says will be a series of worldwide business-development efforts, Dana Corp. has opened an office in Neu-Ulm, Germany, to support regional customers. The office will house business-development managers, who will serve as liaisons between customers and Dana's Automotive Components Group on matters related to engineering, manufacturing, sales, and service. "Under this new arrangement," said Bill Carroll, Automotive Components Group president, "our customers in the region will have one primary Dana contact who is dedicated to helping them grow their business."

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