Detroit Diesel, Freightliner announce plans to expand Redford MI manufacturing facility

April 1, 2005
DETROIT Diesel Corporation (DDC) and Freightliner LLC, both divisions of DaimlerChrysler, have announced plans for a $275-million investment in a manufacturing

DETROIT Diesel Corporation (DDC) and Freightliner LLC, both divisions of DaimlerChrysler, have announced plans for a $275-million investment in a manufacturing and office facility in Redford, Michigan.

Details of the expansion program were announced at a February 23 ceremony at the facility led by Carsten Reinhardt, Detroit Diesel president and chief executive officer, and Rainer Schmueckle, Freightliner president and chief executive officer.

“The bold new plans for the Redford facility signify the shared commitment of Detroit Diesel Corporation and the Freightliner group to continuing leadership in all aspects of North American commercial truck manufacturing including vehicles, components, technology and people,” Schmueckle said. “We are assembling significant future capability to design and manufacture a variety of key components for North American commercial vehicles here at Redford.”

In addition to the facility improvements, the Redford campus of buildings will house new headquarters for Sterling Truck Corp and Western Star Trucks, two business units of Freightliner.

Under the plans, the 3.2-million-square-foot Redford facility will become home to a new heavy-duty truck engine line, medium-duty engine assembly, and expanded axle production.

“At the heart of this renaissance is our focus on transforming the facility into a manufacturing center that produces a variety of state-of-the-art truck components for the NAFTA market,” said Reinhardt. “We will get rid of old, underutilized equipment and processes and instead, bring in new, state-of-the-art equipment and technology.”

By 2007, the Redford facility will accommodate the manufacturing of the new heavy-duty truck engine. Currently in development by Detroit Diesel and parent company DaimlerChrysler, the engine will be launched in 2007 and will incorporate the latest in diesel engine and emissions technology.

For an extended transition period, the new engine will be sold in tandem with the Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine. In the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) market, the new engine will be installed in heavy-duty vehicles produced by business units of Freightliner.

The Redford facility also will house assembly operations for the MBE 900 medium-duty diesel truck engine. Available since 1999 in North America, the Mercedes Benz MBE 900 is currently built in Mannheim, Germany. Beginning in 2007, North American versions of the engine will be assembled at Redford.

The MBE 900 powers Freightliner group vehicles for a wide variety of commercial vehicle applications including beverage, utility, construction, and pick-up and delivery applications.

Also in the Redford facility upgrade, Axle Alliance Company (AAC) will expand into gear set manufacturing, along with its current axle assembly operations.

Since 2001, Redford has been the home of AAC, also a part of the Freightliner group. AAC builds steering and drive axles for heavy and medium commercial vehicles. They are installed as proprietary axles in a variety of Freightliner group vehicles. Over the next year, AAC will increase its Redford operation by 85,000 square feet.

“With the new investment in the Detroit Diesel Redford complex, including the strategic location of new heavy-duty engine production, the addition of MBE 900 assembly, and the advent of Axle Alliance Company, the Redford facility is becoming the group's commercial vehicle component manufacturing center,” said Schmueckle. “It is a place where leading commercial vehicle components will be designed, developed, tested, and produced.”

Built in 1938 and expanded several times in phases, the Redford facility is already home to Detroit Diesel Corp's headquarters and manufacturing operations.

Turning to the Sterling and Western Star move, Schmueckle said: “A headquarters location in Redford will offer strategic advantages for Sterling and Western Star, including synergies with the numerous DaimlerChrysler operations on site and in the area.”

Sterling and Western Star will relocate from Willoughby, Ohio, to Redford in the second quarter of this year. Sterling truck manufacturing will remain in St Thomas, Ontario, Canada, and Western Star trucks will continue to be built in Portland, Oregon.