When news broke Monday that Navistar would add 300 jobs to its Springfield, Ohio assembly plant, that was a signal that bigger news was on the horizon.
The increase in laborforce, coupled with a nearly $13 million investment in facility expansions for a company that hasn’t posted a profit in years, meant something more than just jobs in Ohio.
Rumors of Navistar/General Motors mashup have been loud since the beginning of the summer. We reported on them here in July.
That the companies will roll out Navistar chassis with GM engine and parts, finally seals the deal. Navistar has floated this river before.
When Ford redesigned the Super Duty in 2011, it was outfitted with a 6.7 liter V8 designed and produced by Ford. That move proved to be the handwriting on the wall for Blue Diamond, the company’s heavy truck joint venture with Ford. Navistar (and Allison) was formally left in the dust when Ford elected to integrate its powertrain and bring manufacturing in-house beginning with the coming model year.
But Monday’s announcement leaves more questions than it answers.
In a conference call with media yesterday, Bill Kozek, Navistar truck and parts president, says the new truck will definately feature a diesel engine. So, there’s that. But he didn’t say it wouldn’t feature a gas engine.
GM won’t comment on the engine(s) or other specs that will be offered, so it’s up to the general public to speculate.
In the early 2000s Chevy’s C4500 and C5500 featured the same Duramax 6.6 liter turbo-diesel offered in the HD Sierras and Silverados. An 8.1 liter gasoline V-8 was also available.
I think it’s reasonable to expect that a current geneation Duramax 6.6 liter diesel will be one of the available engines for this truck.
GM’s 8.1 liter Vortec was the last of the company’s big block engines and was eventually phased out in favor of the small block 6 liter, which is available in the company’s Sierra and Silverado HDs and Express 4500 commercial van.
The previous generation of heavy GM trucks offered a five-speed Allison transmission. Today, an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission handles the shifting for the 6.6 liter Duramax in Chevy’s 3500 HD. I would expect that to carry forward.
A little trickier to predict are cab configurations. Regular and crew are likely to be offered depending on spec and class.
Kozek says the International-branded version of this truck will replace the TerraStar, so it’s pretty clear they will target the construction segment with upfitter-friendly options. That much was probably obvious before he confirmed it, although phasing out the TerraStar was somewhat of a surprise to me.
Of the two companies Chevy is more likely to offer a pickup bed, but I see it unlikely that you won’t be able to get a bow-tied dump body spec if you want one.
Of course, we’re more than 3 years from these trucks ever hitting a dealership lot. Chevy and Navistar have plenty of time to roll out a new engine, powertrain and just about everything else. What do you think a model year 2019 Chevy TerraStar/4500/whatever they call it will look like?