Freightliner LLC announces plans to build a $300 million truck plant in Saltillo, Mexico. The site will produce Freightliner and Sterling trucks to meet anticipated growth in demand.

“Frankly, we were not able to produce what we could have sold in 2006 due to capacity constraints,” says President and CEO Chris Patterson. “We expect another surge in customer demand in 2009 prior to the next round of EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) emissions regulations, and the construction of this new plant will ensure that we are fully prepared.”

The 740-acre (300-ha) site also will feature a PDI/transporter center and test track. It will have a maximum annual volume of 30,000 units and employ up to 1,600 people, the truck maker says.

Groundbreaking is planned for the second quarter of 2007. Production is slated for early 2009.

The Saltillo site will be Freightliner’s second plant in Mexico, joining Santiago Tianguistenco, which produces Freightliner-brand heavy- and medium-duty trucks for the domestic market and for export to Latin America, the U.S. and Canada.

“Five major U.S.-based OEMs now have Mexican manufacturing capability, including Freightliner,” adds Roger Nielsen, chief operating officer.

“DaimlerChrysler (AG) has had excellent success in recent years with quality, cost and efficiency through our Mexican operations, and we fully expect the new plant in Saltillo to set benchmark standards for DaimlerChrysler Truck Group manufacturing facilities worldwide,” Nielsen says.

Chrysler Group has engine, stamping and assembly plants in Saltillo. Engine plant products include Chrysler’s popular 5.7L Hemi V-8, while the assembly complex builds Dodge pickups and chassis-cabs.

emayne@wardsauto.com