Navistar International Corp. will challenge Ford Motor Co.’s dominance in the large work truck market.
The Lisle, Ill., truck and bus company launched its International CV Series of work trucks in the medium-duty Class 4 and 5 weight segments this week. Although it will have plenty of competition from Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram truck brand, Navistar executives told Trucks.com they have a strong strategy for attacking the market.
“There are customers who don’t want to do business with an automobile dealer who only dabbles in commercial trucks,” said Michael Cancelliere, Navistar’s president, truck and parts.
The CV will be the only Class 4/5 truck sold by a U.S. company that makes only commercial vehicles, he said.
The market accounts for sales of about 40,000 vehicles annually, but Navistar doesn’t expect its entry to grow the segment much. Navistar will have to be able to capture sales from customers who previously would have purchased a heavy-duty Ford F-Series truck, Cancelliere said.
“We have to give customers a compelling reason to change from an existing brand,” he said.
Navistar exited the segment when it scuttled the International TerraStar model in 2015.
The International CV is a joint venture with General Motors. GM is building the cab interiors – the dash looks similar to that of a Chevrolet Silverado pickup – and the body panels. It also is supplying a 6.6-liter diesel engine that Navistar is tuning for commercial use. Navistar is contributing the frame and is assembling the GM-built body panels.
GM will sell its own version, branded as a Silverado. Both nameplates will be assembled at Navistar’s factory in Springfield, Ohio. The typical Navistar version is expected to sell for around $56,000, depending on equipment.
To gain distance from rival offerings from mainstream automakers, Navistar is emphasizing the heavy-duty, commercial aspects of the CV.
It features a gear-driven transfer case, a high-strength, low-alloy steel frame rail and a painted chassis for corrosion resistance. The truck has a commercial-style, forward-tilting hood, allowing easy access to the engine and routine maintenance points.
The engine will produce up to 350-horsepower engine and 700 pound-feet of torque and can be mated to two six-speed Allison transmission options. Depending on configuration, the truck has a maximum gross weight of 37,500 pounds.
Vocational trucks of such size are typically used for hauling trailers, utility maintenance, tow trucks, conversions into ambulance use and other services. Navistar said the CV will accommodate a wide range of specialized body types. It has straight frame rails with no rivets on the top flange, providing a flat surface from cab to axle for easier chassis mounting of truck bodies such as a towing rig or cherry picker.
The company said it also designed a comfortable cab that will be welcoming to drivers familiar with lighter pickup trucks. It has premium materials similar to middle trim levels of light truck offerings. It features an 8-inch color touchscreen with navigation and, for the first time in an International truck, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s also an optional air-ride suspension with an engine-mounted compressor, which can be used to adjust height and provide a smooth ride for cargo protection and passenger comfort.
Cancelliere called the cab “a field office with perks.”
Navistar also will pitch its 700 service locations with commercial diesel vehicle-trained technicians in the U.S. as a bonus. The network will allow customers to have their vehicles serviced and repaired faster when compared with a consumer-oriented automobile dealer.
Buyers of these trucks are often small businesses, purchasing the vehicles just one or two at time. Larger fleet sales go to utilities and government agencies, but that’s a small portion of the market, Cancelliere said.
Navistar should be able to gain some sales, but it is a tough market to break into, said Antti Lindstrom, an analyst with IHS Markit. “It remains to be seen if there is room.”
“Just from marketing, Navistar will be able to capture some of the audience,” Lindstrom said. “It has the marketing advantage because it’s a heavy-duty truck company.”