The OEM is making a $16-million investment to prepare the Portland truck manufacturing plant for Western Star heavy-duty truck production, which will begin there in October. In addition, Western Star engineering, manufacturing, customer support and other technical staff are relocating to Portland.
The company said investments in facilities and personnel are intended to ensure a successful changeover of operations and to preserve the unique character of the Western Star brand.
“Western Star is renowned for delivering distinctive, high quality trucks and providing superb customer support,” said Rainer Schmueckle, president & CEO of Western Star parentLLC. “During and after these operational changes, we are committed to maintaining the quality, unique character and prestige of the Western Star brand.”
The Portland truck plant is an ideal location for Western Star production, according to Roger Nielsen, COO of Freightliner LLC. Opened in 1969, the plant has built a number of highly specialized vehicles over the years, including U.S. military trucks and airport rescue/response vehicles.
“Employees at the Portland truck plant are accustomed to building smaller-run, customized vehicles, including trucks with planetary axles, heavy suspensions and extreme-duty components,” Nielsen said. “These workers have tremendous pride and skill and are looking forward to building Western Star trucks.”
Production of Western Star trucks in Kelowna will continue through September.
Western Star said it has major plans for growth in North America as well as in export markets. Among other developments, the company recently unveiled the LowMax, a low-profile version of the Western Star 4900 EX heavy-duty truck; introduced its severe-duty product line in South Africa, and launched a major new advertising campaign in the U.S. and Canada.