Caterpillar, Navistar Part Ways on Vocational Trucks

July 28, 2015

(This article has been updated.)

Caterpillar and Navistar have ended their manufacturing agreement with vocational trucks, effective early 2016.

Caterpillar will design and build its own trucks, and Navistar will "leverage" the intellectual property of the venture to launch a new line of "premium" trucks.

“They will be exactly the same as the trucks produced by Navistar today,” said Ron Schultz, sales and product support manager, among execs who spoke to Construction Equipment following the announcement. That should continue for the first 12 to 18 months after production begins next year at Cat’s plant in Texas.

That means continued use of the Navistar-supplied 12.4-liter CT13 diesel with its Cummins selective catalytic reduction equipment, as well as the cab and chassis whose designs were adapted by Cat designers from components shared with Navistar’s International PayStar.

“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 its source 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. Caterpillar was not unhappy with the Navistar relationship and the supplier agreement remains in force.

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 its plant in Victoria, Texas, north of Corpus Christi. It will continue to build excavators there, and the addition of trucks will add about 200 jobs, Caterpillar says. Caterpillar on/off-highway vocational trucks will be the same as the current Cat Truck series for some time after Cat begins building them itself, executives say.

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 the new “premium” line of International  trucks 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” when Navistar declined to use the Cummins ISX15 with SCR in 2010. “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.”