LOUISVILLE, KY – At a press conference held at the Mid-America Trucking Show, Peterbilt Motors Co. said it will increase its daily build rate 20% starting in April.

Peterbilt gm Nick Panza said it projects industry-wide sales of Class 8 trucks to reach 145,000 units in 2002, down from 150,000 in 2001, with Class 6 and 7 sales staying relatively flat at 90,000 to 95,000 units.

"The trucking industry still has many challenges to face, but demand for trucks is increasing slightly," Panza stated.

Peterbilt parent Paccar Corp. also announced plans to introduce a version of a medium-duty vehicle built by its European subsidiary, DAF, to North America by the end of this year.

Paccar subsidiaries Peterbilt and Kenworth Truck Co. will each produce a version of DAF's medium-duty LF cabover in Class 5, 6, and 7 configurations. Though the LF is also built in a Class 4 configuration in Europe, that version will not be introduced in North America, according to Panza.

"We can go that low if we want, but we will not be building one at this time," Panza said.

Paccar's U.K.-based subsidiary, Leyland Trucks, yearly builds 10,000 to 11,000 LF models for DAF to sell in the European market. Peterbilt said the North American version of the LF would first be imported from Europe, then eventually built in North America at Paccar's Canadian manufacturing facility.