The U.S. Justice Dept. has given tacit approval to the Freightliner Corp. purchase of Ford Motor Co.'s heavy-truck business by not filing an anti-trust objection under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. The Canadian government has also approved the acquisition.
The two companies are now free to move ahead with the sale of Ford's technology, tooling, and assembly equipment for the Louisville/AeroMax (also known as the HN80 series), as well as Ford's service parts business, and the tooling for Ford's L-Series and Cargo trucks. The transfer should be completed by March, according to Freightliner president and CEO James L. Hebe.
Freightliner will set up a new company headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, to market the HN80. A name for the new company is expected later this month, followed shortly by a new name for the HN80.
With production scheduled to start early next year, the HN80 will be built across the Canadian border at Freightliner's St. Thomas, Ontario, plant, which is currently producing Freightliner's FLD Series. Cabs for the truck will be built in Norwalk, Ohio, by Mayflower Corp. Freightliner will invest $5.6 million in that plant to relocate a robotic cab assembly system now housed in Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.
Ford heavy-truck dealers have also been contacted about the transition, according to Freightliner. It's not yet known how many of the approximately 250 current Ford dealers will sign on to distribute the renamed heavy trucks. While Ford is getting out of the heavy-truck business, it will continue building medium-duty F-Series conventionals and is expected to continue marketing those popular models through its current truck dealership network.
Although Ford had suspended North American production of the Cargo, Freightliner says it will revive the low cabover model for distribution in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico through "select Ford and Freightliner dealers." The Class 6 through 8 Cargo will be built at Freightliner's Mt. Holly, N.C., plant, which is currently producing medium-duty Business Class models.