July 01, 2015
Bill Visnic

With the nation’s steadying economy accelerating demand for all manner of commercial trucks, the truck-production landscape is evolving – and revolving – as former partners and rivals scramble for position in what is projected to be a boom period for truck manufacturing.

Industry sources believe General Motors is close to announcing a new partnership with commercial-truck stalwart Navistar International to manufacture so-called “medium-duty” trucks that cover the industry’s Class 4, 5 and 6 classifications. GM built medium-duty trucks for decades before exiting the business in 2009 amidst its bankruptcy reorganization and the recession.

A spokesperson for GM said the company has made no announcements and had no information to share.

A GM linkup with Navistar would be the second prong in a GM reentry to the medium-truck business: earlier this month, the company announced a new venture with Japan’s Isuzu Motors to sell a version of Isuzu’s N-Series “cab-over” trucks, a special configuration of delivery and service trucks that positions the driver over the engine rather than behind it and also are classified as medium-duty models.

Navistar, meanwhile, has considerable history with GM – and crosstown rival Ford Motor.

Navistar and Ford last year severed their Blue Diamond venture that for a decade saw Navistar build medium-duty trucks sold by Ford’s commercial-truck network. As part of an agreement struck with the United Auto Workers union in 2011, Ford this year will begin in-house production of its medium-duty trucks, the 2016 F-650 and F-750, at a plant in the Cleveland suburb of Avon Lake, Ohio. A Wall Street Journal story last year pegged the Ford business as worth $400 million annually to Navistar.