Freightliner sells American LaFrance to investment firm

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DaimlerChrysler’s Freightliner division has reached an agreement that sells its maker of fire trucks and emergency vehicles, American LaFrance, to Patriarch Partners, an investment firm based in New York City and Charlotte, N.C.

American LaFrance’s 46,000-square-foot corporate office building and assembly facility in Ladson, S.C., is not part of the sale, which was announced Thursday, Dec. 15. American LaFrance production in the plant will continue until 2007, after which DaimlerChrysler will build Dodge Sprinter vans there. Otherwise, Patriarch buys all American LaFrance’s operating assets and will maintain all its U.S. manufacturing facilities and company-owned dealer locations.

American LaFrance is the country’s fifth-largest maker of fire and emergency vehicles, including ambulances, pumpers and tankers. One of the oldest names in the automotive industry, American LaFrance was created in 1903, the same year as the Ford Motor Co., from a merger of International Fire Engine Co. and LaFrance Manufacturing Co., home of 19th century fire-engine pioneer Truckson LaFrance.