Test Driving Navistar’s New Models

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Navistar International Corp.

International hands over the keys to early versions of 4-wheel-drive TerraStar and cab-over-engine LoadStar refuse hauler.

Navistar International Corp., Lisle, Ill., is rolling out three new models in the vocational marketplace, ex­panding its presence in a segment that one of the man­ufacturer’s loudest cheerleaders of late said is the company’s true bread-and-butter business.

“We are more of a vocational company than an on-highway company — that’s a fact,” said Jim Hebe, who in October announced his retirement from the post of senior vice president of North American sales, a job he still held on Sept. 25 when he spoke during a media and dealer event that showcased the company’s TerraStar all-wheel-drive, LoadStar low cab forward refuse hauler and WorkStar sloped nose models, among others.

“This company has had a history of vocational products, and we have made the absolute conscious decision that we are not going to give it up,” he said.

Hebe, in fact, was part of that earlier history, having joined the company then known as International Harvester in 1971, then working his way through the medium-, heavy- and vocational truck industries before returning to Navistar in 2008.

The addition of the all-wheel-drive TerraStar is an indication of that commitment to the vocational market, as Hebe said that while customers have been asking for a version of the Classes 4-5 truck that could handle off-road duty, Navistar took its time to make sure the truck was rugged enough to handle customers’ demands. He and the truck’s designers insisted, for example, on a gear-driven rather than chain-driven transfer case, and worked with one of its suppliers to develop one specifically for the truck.

The first production-ready model was made available to reporters during a ride-and-drive event during which the TerraStar and other trucks were driven around two slightly banked off-road courses that featured hills, dips and splashes of mud left over from hard rains that had just drenched the mountainous region of Utah that is home to Miller Motorsports Park, the host venue.

Aside from the off-road courses, the park hosts racing events and is used by auto and motorcycle manufacturers to test their products.

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