Cat and Navistar split in the US but stay married Down Under

Caterpillar has announced it will split with joint venture partner Navistar in the US and will start building its own on highway trucks from its plant in Victoria, Texas. But the divorce in  the US is probably a bit like getting married in Vegas, it won’t really count anywhere else

The announcement may be see by some as vindication of the misguided view that Navistar’s Cat product channel will disappear in this country, especially given the announcement that the International product line is returning to the Australian market, however according to local Navistar Auspac, sales and marketing supremo Glen Sharman, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Navistar certainly wouldn’t be investing in development new Cat models if it saw anything other than a long and strong future for Cat-branded trucks in our markets,” says Glen Sharman.

“The Cat-branded trucks supplied to Australian, New Zealand and Pacific markets are completely different models to the Cat vocational range which is a uniquely Caterpillar product Glen Sharman said.

“The Cat trucks we offer here are developed specifically for Australian on-highway markets.

“The Cat range has evolved immensely since the Australian launch in 2010 with models like the CT630S, the CT630SC and most recently the CT630HD rated for roadtrain triples applications.

The reality is that in Australia the Cat brand is sold by Navistar under what could be described as a licence, which it has from Caterpillar and this will continue to happen for a long time to come.

The reality of the announcement is that in the US the trucks Navistar was building for Cat were an aged line of vocational vehicles that have never been exportable.

While it is Cat’s intention to now build its own dump and other vocational trucks for the North American market, ending the manufacturing agreement it had with Navistar, the fact is Navistar will continue to manufacture and develop Cat Trucks for the Australian market well into the future.

Caterpillar’s Director of the Global On-Highway Truck Group, Chris Chadwick said the on-highway vocational truck product family is important to its product line in the US. “Customers like our trucks and want to include them in their fleets in a variety of heavy duty applications such as dump trucks, mixers, haulers or one of the other configurations we offer.”

“To continue to provide the best solution for our customers, we will bring the design and manufacturing of this product into Caterpillar, and the production specifically to the Victoria, Texas plant. Our updated strategy reaffirms our commitment to grow and develop our presence in the vocational truck industry moving forward.”

In the US Cat Trucks has a completely different range of trucks to those available in Australia where the Cat brand is used on what are basically Navistar trucks rebadged and restyled for the local market.

The Caterpillar vocational truck, the CT660, was launched in the North American market in 2011 and are based on a much older design. These have until now been built by Navistar for Cat at its Escobedo plant in Mexico.

The North American transition process will begin immediately, with production expected to begin in the first half of next year. Caterpillar Victoria will continue to produce excavators, and the addition of the vocational truck production is expected to add around 200 new jobs at the facility. US Cat dealers will continue to sell and support Cat vocational trucks.