Western Star Begins Truck Production at Portland Plant

From assembling the cab to the polished product, Western Star trucks are now being manufactured at Freightliner’s expanded plant in Portland, Ore.

Western Star Trucks has begun heavy-duty truck production at its Portland, Ore., Truck Manufacturing Plant.

Freightliner LLC, parent company of Western Star, moved the truck manufacturing operation from Kelowna, British Columbia, as part of its restructuring plan that began in the fall of 2001.

Western Star, headquartered in Willoughby, Ohio, produces premium, custom trucks for long-haul and vocational applications.

Freightliner LLC President and CEO Rainer Schmueckle said the Portland location offers several advantages for Western Star from both a production and engineering standpoint. The Portland plant also produces Class 8 Freightliner brand on-highway trucks and U.S. military trucks and is close to state-of-the-art development and testing facilities based in Portland.

“We will ensure that customers continue to receive the top quality trucks they have come to expect from Western star while further enhancing the product,” Schmueckle said.

In the past year, Western Star has invested $16 million to prepare the Portland plant for the Western Star line.

The new investment in the plant encompasses new fixtures, assembly lines and related renovations, said Roger Nielsen, chief operating officer for Freightliner. The Western Star chassis assembly is housed in a 15,000-square-foot addition. Sections of the line have been widened and reinforced to handle even the biggest Western Star off-road chassis.

The plant has installed a state-of-the-art E-coat primer system, and the topcoat paint facility is being upgraded to a true clean-room environment. The finish cab line has been lengthened with additional workstations, including a water leak test booth and a cab-and-sleeper integrator fixture.

In a ceremony in October, Western Star employees delivered the first Portland-built Western Star to owner-operator Ryan Lucas of British Columbia.

At the ceremony, Western Star also announced it will offer Mercedes-Benz MBE4000 engines for its 4900 FA and 4900 SA trucks. Production of the engine for these models begins in January.

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The 12.8-liter, in-line six-cylinder MBE4000 engine is ideal for vocational applications, the company said. The engine is rated from 350 to 450 horsepower, with peak torque of 1,550 pound-feet at 1,100 rpm.

Incorporating advanced diesel technology, the MBE4000 is exempt from the October 2002 emissions standards. It does not require any engine modifications or after-treatment devices under current rules.

“The MBE4000 engine delivers an outstanding combination of performance, fuel economy, value and reliability, all in a lightweight package,” said John Merrifield, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

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