International to reduce options

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International will offer fewer spec’ing options on its Class 8 trucks – much as it has already done with its medium-duty offerings.

The International Truck and Engine Co., will streamline its heavy-duty truck line, offering fewer options for drivelines, axles, wheel systems and fifth wheels, much as it has with medium-duty trucks. Truck Group President Steve Keate says the change will give owners a better product.

He adds that the company’s effort to integrate suppliers is going well, and that the plan, which will limit the number of combinations a client can spec on a Class 8 truck, will affect service, durability, reliability, residual values and driver retention. “We’re looking to lower the operating costs of our customers,” he says.

Truck makers have been offering fewer options as part of an overall trend toward vertical integration. OEMs like International and Freightliner have dropped some engines from their offerings, arguing that the engineering effort required to manage certain specs had lowered operating efficiencies and increased the costs of vehicles to owners.

In International’s case, the effort started with the company’s medium-duty trucks, which only support International engines. Keate says the company reduced driveline combinations from more than 800 to 34 on medium-duty trucks and, in doing so, optimized transmission shift points, and improved reliability, driveability and fuel economy.

The company is already narrowing its fifth wheel options to one supplier – Fontaine. “There will be less proliferation of options than what currently exists,” says Keate. “Access to certain options will depend on how much demand there is.”