CHICAGO, April 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Navistar International Corporation (NYSE: NAV) today announced the opening of its new $167 million truck assembly facility in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Approved by Navistar's board in October, 1996, the 700,000 square-foot plant, the company's first new assembly plant in 20 years, was constructed in only 12 months and is designed to meet Mexican and Latin American truck and urban bus demand. "The new assembly plant will enable us to continue providing customers in Mexico and Latin America with the highest quality vehicles and service," said John R. Horne, chairman, president and chief executive officer. "We are driven to better serve new and current customers, many of whom operate in Mexico and require a complete production, sales and service network closer to where they do business." Though the company has had a presence in Mexico for more than 60 years, Navistar has moved aggressively during the past two years to expand its presence as it continued to drive its five-point truck strategy: expanding internationally, focusing truck assembly plants, simplifying current product lines, investing in new product development, and achieving competitive wages, benefits and productivity. Navistar's market share in Mexico has grown in 1998 to 19.1 percent, up from 12.2 percent in 1997. The company currently serves customers in Mexico through a 42-location dealer network and a parts distribution center near Mexico City. The International(R) brand medium and heavy trucks and urban buses built in Mexico will be assembled using International diesel engines manufactured at the company's Melrose Park, Ill. facility and cab assemblies stamped at the Navistar.s Springfield, Ohio truck plant. The trucks also will meet Mexico's local content requirements of 50 percent. The opening of the plant gives the company a full range of manufacturing, marketing and distribution capabilities in Mexico and enables Navistar to serve the growing Mexican market as well as Central and South America. The plant has the capacity to produce 65 medium and heavy trucks and urban buses per shift, per day. "This plant is a uniquely designed, world-class facility that features state-of-the-art systems and processes that will help us achieve the highest standards of excellence in our operations and attain our quality and productivity goals," said Don DeFosset, executive vice president and president truck group. Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 22, Horne will be accompanied by Mexico's Secretary of Commerce and Industrial Promotion, Herminio Blanco, who will drive the first truck out of the plant; and the Governor of the state of Nuevo Leon, Fernando Canales Clariond. Navistar International Corporation, with world headquarters in Chicago and 1997 annual sales of $6.4 billion, is the leading North American producer of International brand heavy and medium trucks and school buses. Navistar maintained its position as the leader in the combined U.S. and Canadian retail markets for medium and heavy trucks and school buses in the first quarter, achieving a 28.6 percent market share, which is 2.2 percentage points higher than a year ago. The company is also a worldwide leader in the manufacture of International brand mid-range diesel engines which are produced in a range of 160 to 300 horsepower.
SOURCE Navistar International Corporation