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CAT drops Australia for US production

Gone: Production of CAT trucks will switch from Australia to the US later this year.

No more CAT trucks to be produced by Tullamarine joint-venture plant

CAT logo9 Jan 2012

By JAMES STANFORD

THE production of CAT trucks will switch from Australia to the US later this year.

NC2, which was initially a joint venture between US truck brand Navistar and Caterpillar but is now wholly owned by Navistar, has decided to source the next trucks it intends to sell in Australia from a plant in Texas.

The company built the first CAT on-highway trucks in the world in the second half of 2010 at its Tullamarine facility – a loader assembly plant that was converted into a truck production line.

A crew of more than 100 workers raced to produce a batch of trucks before January 1, 2011, because they were fitted with engines that would not pass new ADR 80/03 emission standards applicable from that date.

Teething problems associated with the new model meant the production was delayed and NC2 was left with a large number of trucks with 2010 plates.

GoAuto estimates NC2 built between 350 and 400 trucks before production stopped during December 2010.

The company says it has sold around 225 units and expects to clear its inventory late this year.

The few remaining staff at the Tullamarine facility will carry out accessory fitment work to the imported trucks.

NC2 sales and marketing manager Geoff Tyzack said building the Australian trucks at Navistar’s factory in Garland, Texas, would be more efficient.

“If we build out of Garland we are only a day away from the suppliers,” he said.

One of the issues to arise from the Tullamarine production was the time it would take to work out problems with overseas component suppliers.

“We had some engineering delays on the line, which pushed up our stock levels,” said Mr Tyzack.

While NC2 will source the next generation of Australia-bound CAT trucks from Navistar in the US, Mr Tyzack said there is still potential for production to return to Tullamarine.

The CT610 and CT630 trucks that were produced in Australia were based on the trucks made by Navistar’s International brand.

International trucks were made at Iveco’s Dandenong plant from 1992 until early 2010, when Navistar withdrew the local rights to the brand.

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