It's been a rough year for new truck sales, with Class 8 demand alone down 37% from last year's record levels. Yet in spite of that falloff, International Truck and Engine Corp. is forging ahead with long-held plans to open a retooled manufacturing plant to support sales of its new High Performance (HP) line of trucks.
Steve Keate, president of International, told FLEET OWNER that the decision to reopen its rebuilt Garland, TX, truck plant was a “no-brainer” at best, regardless of the soft market for new trucks. “We think there's no better time than in a down market to win customers for our new HP trucks,” he said. “Now is the time, because customers are scrutinizing the purchasing decision like never before. They are being critical of every purchase. We think we have a product that will provide the greatest value for those dollars, and we will want the capacity in place to support those products.”
With an investment of $25 million, International spent a year gutting and retooling the 550,000-sq.-ft. assembly plant. The facility now produces 15 trucks a day, but by next year this will increase to 70 trucks a day.
Purchased by International in 1997, the Garland plant was earmarked early on to support specific HP truck lines. “This plant re-opening is part of a strategy we laid out in 1996,” said Keate. “We believe we've made the right investment in plants as part of the support package for our new HP trucks. It's not just about the HP trucks themselves; it's the whole package — from manufacturing capacity to maintenance support and financial services — that customers are looking for.”