Photo of the 2016 Chevrolet Express cutaway courtesy of GM.

Photo of the 2016 Chevrolet Express cutaway courtesy of GM.

Navistar, Inc. has reached an agreement with General Motors to manufacture GM's Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana cutaway vans at its Springfield, Ohio, plant starting in the first half of 2017.

With this multi-year contract, Navistar will add at least 300 jobs and recommission its second line at the plant. The agreement also allows GM to free up capacity at its Wentzville, Missouri, plant to build more mid-size pickups and full-size vans, GM said.

"This partnership will provide our Wentzville, Mo., assembly plant more flexibility to keep up with continued demand for mid-size trucks and full-size vans," said Cathy Clegg, GM's vice president of North America manufacturing and labor relations.

GM's Express and Savana vans are typically upfitted as utility or service vehicles, ambulance or rescue vehicles, shuttle buses, and school buses.

Under the agreement, GM will build the van cab in Wentzville and send it to Navistar's Springfield plant. Navistar will send the cab through its paint shop and outfit it with the instrument panel, seats, and other trim. Navistar will add the chassis, including engine, drivetrain, and wheels. The finished cutaway will then be shipped to third-party upfitters or the commercial fleets that ordered it using GM's ship-thru network, according to Robert Wheeler, GM's fleet spokesman.

Navistar will use only GM-sourced parts on the cutaways, and the ordering and delivery process for fleets will remain the same, Wheeler said.

Navistar primarily manufactures its DuraStar and WorkStar models at its Springfield plant. Last September, Navistar and GM announced a separate long-term agreement to develop and assemble a medium-duty, conventional cab Class 4/5 commercial vehicle at Navistar’s Springfield plant starting in 2018.

The future products will be jointly developed using Navistar's expertise in rolling chassis configurations and manufacturing capabilities, and GM's commercial components and engines. The trucks will be available under both the International and Chevrolet brands, and will mark Navistar’s reentry into the Class 4/5 market.

"Our Springfield plant is an important part of our manufacturing footprint, and we’ve been preparing it for a higher volume concentration of light- and medium-duty products as part of our manufacturing strategy," said Persio Lisboa, president, Navistar operations. "This is an important step towards our goal to drive automotive quality into the commercial vehicle industry."

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