Exec says recovery boosting International's truck sales, not pre-buy

| 5/8/2002

International Truck and Engine's top truck executive said May 7 Class 8 truck sales reached 4,000 during March and April, accompanied by a pick up in sales of medium-sized trucks. Steve Keate, president, truck group, said he could not "put a number" on pre-buy activity, and attributed most of the increase to economic recovery.

He said a "handful" of new orders are in for trucks built after EPA's Oct. 1 deadline for emission compliant engines. Keate spoke May 7 during a conference call with reporters. He cited significant new engine testing and said "fear of the unknown will go away quickly."

Keate said "we are fully ready to support the new engines...customers will be pleasantly surprised."

After October, the company will use Cummins and Caterpillar engines only. "We're working very well with both companies to deliver better products, services and support," Keate said. "The last several months have reaffirmed this is the strategy for us."

In other news, the company is continuing to launch a new model about every three months. A 7600 model is due in June. Other models are expected in October and a new interior suite on the 5000 and 900 series trucks is to launch in June.

"This is the most extensive product development in our history," Keate said.. "We're a 100-year-old company, so for us, that's impressive."

Meanwhile, the company announced an Internet-based, truck-tracking system for dealers and fleets, in part because of anticipated higher customer expectations when EPA-complaint trucks enter the market. The system has been used in-house until February.

The International Service Information Solution (ISIS), developed by International's Vaughn Allen, provides a detailed history of all vehicles. A service performance record, recall history, list of past owners, and various manuals are available via a mouse click. "We're getting about one million hits on the web page per month from dealers and fleet owners," Allen said.
--Dick Larsen, senior editor