Detroit Diesel and Freightliner plan to invest $US275 million in a manufacturing and office facility in Redford, Michigan.

The 3.2-million-square-foot Redford facility will become home to a new heavy-duty truck engine line, medium-duty engine assembly and expanded axle assembly.

The Redford campus will also house the new headquarters of Sterling Truck Corporation and Western Star Trucks, two business units of Freightliner LLC, which will relocate from Willoughby, Ohio in the second quarter of this year.

Detroit Diesel Corporation and Freightliner LLC are both part of DaimlerChrysler's Commercial Vehicles Division.

Built in 1938 and expanded several times in phases, the Redford facility is already home to Detroit Diesel Corporation's headquarters and manufacturing operations, including the DDC Series 60 EGR engine manufacturing line.

It also houses MTU Detroit Diesel manufacturing operations, which builds large diesel engines for marine, mining and other applications.

Since 2001, Redford has also been the home of Axle Alliance Company (AAC). A part of the Freightliner group, AAC builds front and rear axles for heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicles.  All of these operations combined currently employ a total of approximately 2,800 people at the facility.

Over the next two years, the technical capabilities of the facility will be expanded considerably and it will become one of the most advanced truck engine and components manufacturing facilities in North America.

New Heavy-Duty Engine Line

By 2007, the Redford facility will accommodate the manufacturing of an all-new heavy-duty truck engine. Currently in development by Detroit Diesel and parent company DaimlerChrysler - the engine will be launched in 2007 and will incorporate the latest in diesel engine and emissions technology. For an extended transition period, the new engine will be sold in tandem with the popular Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine. In the NAFTA market, the new engine will be installed in heavy-duty vehicles produced by business units of Freightliner LLC.

Medium-Duty Engine Assembly

The Redford facility also will house assembly operations for the MBE 900 medium-duty diesel truck engine. Available since 1999 in North America, the MBE 900 is currently built in Mannheim, Germany. Beginning in 2007, North American versions of the engine will be assembled at Redford. The MBE 900 powers Freightliner group vehicles for a wide variety of commercial vehicle applications including beverage, utility, construction and pick-up and delivery applications.

Expanded Axle Operations

In the Redford facility upgrade, Axle Alliance Company (AAC) will expand into gear set manufacturing, along with its current axle assembly operations. Installed as proprietary axles in a variety of Freightliner group vehicles, these components continue to grow in popularity.  Over the next year, AAC will increase its Redford operation by 85,000 sq. ft. to implement a state-of-the- art gear set manufacturing facility.

Construction has already begun to accommodate these new operations.

"Component Manufacturing Centre"

"With the new investment in the Detroit Diesel Redford complex -- including the strategic location of new heavy-duty engine production, the addition of MBE 900 assembly and the advent of Axle Alliance Company -- the Redford facility is becoming the group's commercial vehicle 'Component Manufacturing Center,'" said a Freightliner spokesman.

"It is a place where leading commercial vehicle components will be designed, developed, tested and produced."