Domestic manufacturers well-known for building heavy trucks for the North American market are expanding their product lines into the medium-sized platforms more common to the highways of Europe and Asia.

WORKHORSE Firms hope new line will grab market share. (Tudor Hampton for ENR)

International Truck and Engine Corp., Warrenville, Ill., unveiled its new offering March 3-5 at the Work Truck Show in Baltimore. International’s new CF Series of low cab-forward trucks is aimed at urban construction applications and leasing.

Company officials say that International and its parent firm, Navistar, have a lot at stake with the new lineup. The medium-duty, cab-over-engine platform represents the first offering for Blue Diamond Truck Co., a 50:50 joint venture set up in 2001 between Navistar and Ford Motor Co., Dearborn, Mich. The deal allows both firms to share engineering, parts and production, including a manufacturing plant in Escobedo, Mexico.

Navistar plans to double its annual revenue to $15 billion within the decade, with the CF Series a "major component" of that vision, said Thomas R. Cellitti, International’s medium-duty truck center vice president and general manager

Scheduled for initial orders in October and full production in January 2005, the new series initially will have two models. CF500 has a gross vehicle weight rating of 16,000 lb and CF600 has a GVWR of 19,500 lb.

Ford also will offer the new CF platform under its own badge and brand name in 2005, according to Mark W. Stasell, Blue Diamond vice president and general manager.

During a test drive, ENR found the Mazda cab, Ford automatic transmission and 200-hp, V6 Navistar diesel engine accommodating and maneuverable. However, a more-sophisticated wiring package would help diagnostics on the premium-priced truck. Stasell says the bare chassis will cost between $25,000 and $30,000.

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