Navistar, Volkswagen team up to build electric truck

It’s unclear if electric truck would be built in Springfield.


Navistar and Volkswagen will partner on a new electric truck to be built by the end of this decade, although company officials haven’t said whether it will be built in Springfield.

The manufacturers will collaborate to develop an electric-powered, medium duty vehicle for customers in U.S. and Canada. The new truck could be launched in late 2019 or early 2020, according to information from the company, which declined to provide further details on Friday.

RELATED: Navistar CEO sees role for drivers with self-driving trucks

Earlier this year, Navistar finalized a strategic alliance in which Volkswagen bought a roughly 17-percent equity stake in the Illinois-based truckmaker. Navistar is a major Springfield employer with about 1,500 current workers and thousands of retirees in the area.

“Our alliance with Volkswagen Truck and Bus is allowing us to move much more quickly into electric propulsion, thanks to our ability to leverage their technology investments and components in segments of the market where we’re already a leader,” said Troy A. Clarke, Navistar’s president and CEO in a statement. “We believe the Class 6/7 vehicle is ideal for electric powertrain solutions in the near term, given its abundance of packaging space, and that these vehicles typically run short distances and can depot to recharge at the end of the day.”

MORE COVERAGE: $12M Navistar project could retain 114, add 40 new jobs in Urbana

It’s not clear where the truck will be built, although Springfield would make sense, said Stephen Volkmann, an analyst for Jefferies Equity Research who covers Navistar.

No details are available about what impact, if any, the electric truck might have in Springfield, said Jason Barlow, UAW Local 402 president. The union represents most Springfield workers. Navistar also has an assembly plant in Escobedo, Mexico.

“With over $80 million in recent upgrades to the Springfield facility, we are equipped to build any vehicle World Headquarters wants us to build,” Barlow said. “The Springfield facility has capacity on days, along with second-shift capabilities. The UAW membership have contributed to the company’s turnaround and deserve to have additional products made in Springfield.”

Production would likely be on a small scale initially, Volkmann said.

“I would expect this just to be another drivetrain to be assembled on the same line as the others,” he said.

At the same time, it’s clear interest in electric trucks in increasing, he said.

READ MORE: Navistar reports $37M profit after stronger truck sales

He pointed to companies like Daimler AG, which rolled out the Fuso eCanter earlier this month. The fully electric-powered light truck has a range of a little more than 60 miles. UPS will be the first commercial customer to use that vehicle, according to Daimler, which said it expects to deliver about 500 of that model in the next two years. Larger scale production is expected to start in 2019.

Truck makers like Cummins and electric car manufacturers like Tesla are also developing electric trucks. The market still faces big questions, Volkmann said, like battery life and the residual value of the trucks. But companies are trying to carve out a space now in anticipation of potential growth.

“The current expectations that I have seen call for maybe a third of the market to be electric in the 2025 to 2030 timeframe,” Volkmann said. “Of course that could change with a battery breakthrough or if diesel prices go up dramatically.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Recalled toilet flushing device has caused $710K in property damage, 23 injuries
Recalled toilet flushing device has caused $710K in property damage, 23 injuries

A dangerous toilet flushing device, baby carriers, and wireless chargers are among the latest recalls announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  An accessory that turns your toilet into a high efficiency flusher is under recall by Flushmate.  More than one million Flushmate II 501-B pressure-assisted flushing systems manufactured...
Ohio leaders want to be at the forefront of driverless tech. Here’s what they’re doing.
Ohio leaders want to be at the forefront of driverless tech. Here’s what they’re doing.

Ohio wants to be in the thick of the race toward autonomous and connected vehicles, and state officials were in town Thursday to hear from local stakeholders about concerns they have when it comes to these emerging technologies. Among those concerns: Getting RTA buses and drivers real-time weather updates, making sure driverless cars can sense bicyclists...
Bankruptcy next? Popular bridal retail chain misses debt payment
Bankruptcy next? Popular bridal retail chain misses debt payment

David’s Bridal could be the next chain retailer to file for bankruptcy. David’s Bridal missed an interest payment on $270 million in unsecured notes, according to a news release from S&P Global emailed to Retail Dive. The missed payment sets into motion a 30-day grace period with debtholders before the retailer is in default. The retailer...
Aerospace, defense contractor with Warren County presence OKs $33.5B merger
Aerospace, defense contractor with Warren County presence OKs $33.5B merger

L3 Technologies, a New York-based aerospace and defense contractor with a Warren County presence, and Florida-based Harris Corporation have agreed to combine in what could be the largest ever defense-industry merger. The all-stock deal is valued at approximately $33.5 billion and, if approved, the combined company — L3 Harris Technologies Inc...
Kroger, manufacturers go to top court for DP&L refund

The nation’s largest grocery chain and a group of Ohio manufacturers want a refund from Dayton Power and Light — and they’re going to the Ohio Supreme Court to get it. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), Kroger and the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association are asking the state’s top court to reconsider a recent ruling that...
More Stories