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Navistar readies integrated powertrain from collaboration with Traton Group

Does integrated mean electric? Truck maker is not offering details yet

Navistar is getting ready to build an integrated powertrain for Traton Group brands at the Navistar engine plant in Huntsville, Alabama. (Photo: Navistar)

Editor’s note: Corrects to remove headline and lead reference to supplying Traton brands.

Navistar is ready to build an integrated powertrain in Huntsville, Alabama, following five years of collaboration with Volkswagen’s Traton Group. It comes on the heels of opening an advanced manufacturing plant in San Antonio for conventional diesel and battery-electric vocational trucks.

Navistar announced the engine plant expansion in 2019. The original investment of $125 million now stands at more than $190 million.

A modular approach will allow the integrated powertrain, originally announced as a diesel product, to support expansion. Navistar provided no new details  Wednesday.

Integration could refer to an electrified powertrain containing traction motors, an inverter and other components for an expected battery-powered Class 8 truck. It would be based on Navistar’s flagship over-the-road International LT. Huntsville is home to Navistar’s A26 diesel engine that powers the LT and other models.

Integrated powertrain a ‘path to sustainable transportation’

“We will set a new standard of efficiency for our customers with this integrated powertrain, contributing to our path to sustainable transportation,” Michael Grahe, Navistar executive vice president, operations, said in a press release. Traton recently increased its planned spending on electrification to $3 billion by 2026.

The company declined to make executives available to discuss the integrated powertrain. Its first electric model, the Class 6 eMV series, is being built on the same line as conventional diesel MV models in San Antonio.

Navistar broke ground on a 110,000-square-foot expansion of the Huntsville plant in February 2020. The additional $65 million supports increased manufacturing opportunities for the company’s growth.

Scania expected to be first to come to North America

Traton’s $3.7 billion purchase of Navistar in 2021 opened the door for the Volkswagen AG subsidiary to begin selling products from its Scania and MAN brands in North America. The first products will be Scania mining trucks in Canada. Navistar announced the Scania project in late 2019 at the North America Commercial Vehicle show.

The Scania G 500 XT 6x4 Tipper truck
The Scania G 500 XT 6×4 Tipper is expected to be among the first Scania trucks sold in North America. (Photo: Scania)

Traton, formerly the Volkswagen Truck and Bus Group, formed powertrain and purchasing alliances with Navistar when it purchased about 16.8% of Navistar’s shares for $256 million in September 2016.

Navistar collaborated with Traton for more than five years on the development of the integrated powertrain. The company has committed thousands of hours of research and development to the common modular system for trucks and buses that can be adapted to global regions and North America.

Navistar will use fleet evaluation units to collect data and real-world input with direct feedback from U.S. and Canadian customers.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.