International to build Class 8 engines at Alabama plant

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By Kristin Walters

International Truck and Engine Corp. will produce its new line of Class 8 “big bore” diesel engines at a new facility to be built near its assembly plant in Huntsville, Ala. The new plant will begin full production of the MaxxForce 11 and MaxxForce 13 engines in spring 2008 and will employ an expected 175 workers. Until then, the engines will be partially assembled in Germany and finished and trimmed in Huntsville.

International teamed with German diesel manufacturer MAN to create the engines. “This is going to help us lead the way into the market for clean diesel engines,” said International Engine Group President Jack Allen at a ceremony at the plant Wednesday, Oct. 25. “The best part about it is we’re going to bring 175 American manufacturing jobs to Huntsville.”

The Huntsville plant met the requirements for success, Allen said: operational flexibility, “proven ability to build a quality product” and a favorable business environment. The 700,000-square-foot Huntsville plant currently employs 575 people and produces V6 and V8 engines for International trucks and Ford trucks and vans.

The new inline 6-cylinder engines, which debuted at the 2005 Mid-America Trucking Show, will use compacted graphite iron, a stronger, lighter material that will improve fuel economy and reduce noise, the company said. “The CGI material is extremely strong, so we don’t have to make the walls as thick,” said Tim Shick, director of marketing. “We can cut weight without cutting strength. It’s the opposite – we add strength.”

The engines will be available beginning in fall 2007 in International ProStar line-haul tractors, International 8600 regional-haul tractors and International 7000 series severe service trucks. “In my mind it will reset the standard in heavy-duty engines,” said Jacob Thomas, vice president of the company’s Big Bore Business Unit. “That unprecedented quietness should be a clue to the superior quality we plan to achieve with this engine.”