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Diesels in Detroit

Although some manufacturing companies are abandoning the state of Michigan for more southerly climes, Detroit Diesel Corp. (DDC; Redford Twsp., MI; www.detroitdiesel.com) and Freightliner LLC (Portland, OR; www.freightliner.com), both of which are parts of DaimlerChrysler (DDC is actually part of Freightliner, which produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles under the names Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance, and Thomas Built Buses), are making a significant commitment with a $275-million spend at DDC’s 3.2-million-ft2 HQ facility.

Although some manufacturing companies are abandoning the state of Michigan for more southerly climes, Detroit Diesel Corp. (DDC; Redford Twsp., MI; www.detroitdiesel.com) and Freightliner LLC (Portland, OR; www.freightliner.com), both of which are parts of DaimlerChrysler (DDC is actually part of Freightliner, which produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles under the names Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance, and Thomas Built Buses), are making a significant commitment with a $275-million spend at DDC’s 3.2-million-ft2 HQ facility. Part of this expansion will be for a heavy-duty diesel engine currently under development by DDC and it parent company; this engine will be introduced in 2007. The new engine will be built in four different displacements, initially 14.8-liter, then with 15.6-, 12.8- and 9.9-liter variants to follow. The plant will be involved in the machining of many major components, as well as complete assembly and final testing.

In addition to which, DDC will undertake assembly operations for the MBE 900 medium-duty diesel truck engine, which is currently built in Mannheim, Germany in ‘07. Axle Alliance Co., which is part of Freightliner and housed on the Redford campus, will be supplementing its production of front and rear axles for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by adding gear set manufacturing capability in an 85,000-ft2 expansion. More over, this year Sterling and Western Star will be moving their headquarters to the Redford site from Willoughby, OH.

During the announcement of the expansion, Rainer Schmueckle stated, “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. . .We are assembling significant future capability to design and manufacture a variety of key components for North American commercial vehicles here at Redford.” When he made the announcement he was president and CEO of Freightliner LLC. Shortly thereafter, the board of management of DaimlerChrysler named him the chief operating officer of the Mercedes Car Group, with responsibilities for production, procurement and information technology. Clearly, he’s doing something right.—GSV