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Press Release

Oldest Fire Truck Maker Revived As New Generation Truck Unveiled


PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 29 -- Freightliner Corp.
unveiled the newest generation of the legendary American LaFrance
custom fire truck to fire chiefs from throughout the world who were in
Kansas City, Mo., to attend their Aug. 25-28 annual convention.

The 164-year-old American LaFrance had ceased fire truck production
when Freightliner purchased the company in 1995. Upon the purchase,
Freightliner immediately initiated the design of an all-new line of
custom fire trucks and announced its intention to become the fire
service industry's dominant chassis supplier.

American LaFrance has roots dating back to 1832 in Waterford, NY. It
produced its first steam-powered fire engine in 1873 and has been a
strong and colorful name in fire fighting ever since. American
LaFrance innovations include the technology that led to modern
diesel-powered pumps, the first screw-driven ladder trucks, and
today's giant aerial ladder trucks.

Called the American LaFrance "Eagle," the new fire truck chassis
offers many technological advances that improve safety performance,
driver and crew ergonomics as well as the fire truck's
durability. Freightliner, the leading maker of heavy-duty trucks in
North America, incorporated into the new fire truck revolutionary
technology originally developed for its all-new premium heavy-duty
highway trucks.

"Technology, such as the latest generation of anti-lock brakes, air
bags, electronic braking and components with reduced maintenance
requirements, is sorely needed in today's emergency vehicles," said
Freightliner President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Hebe.

"Fire departments all over North America are asking for cost-effective
maintenance and repairs as their fleets are downsized, their mileage
is increasing, and their budgets are squeezed tighter than ever,"
added Hebe, whose first job in the trucking industry was at American
LaFrance 25 years ago.

"Technology being developed for commercial trucks is needed now in
emergency vehicles," he said. "We have cost-effectively transferred
our expertise to this market and see great opportunities to use our
resources and products to meet the challenges facing the fire service
of the 21st Century."

Attention to Detail, Fire Service Needs

True to the American LaFrance tradition of inventing equipment and
apparatus to make fire fighting safer and more effective, Freightliner
has developed a fire truck chassis that gives optimum performance and
convenience in demanding conditions and created one of the most driver
and crew-friendly cabs ever built.

Freightliner engineers relied on a comprehensive study of the
emergency services industry to give its new fire fighting customers
what they wanted in a cab interior. Greater windshield area for more
visibility; raised roofs and longer and wider cabs with quieter rides;
an electronic navigation mapping system that can help guide to
destinations or locate a specific fire hydrant; adjustable air seats;
traffic warning lights on all doors and a range of storage cabinets
are just a few of the features included to increase fire fighters'
comfort, safety and productivity.

"The American LaFrance Eagle fire truck chassis has all the features
of next-century design and technology, but it's an unmistakable
descendent of the oldest and most honored fire truck nameplate in
North America," added Hebe.

Freightliner expects to double its business in this segment within two

With the new line of American LaFrance fire trucks, Freightliner has
entered what has traditionally been known as the "custom" segment of
the fire truck chassis marketplace. With its heavy and medium-duty
trucks, Freightliner leads the "commercial" side of the industry. Hebe
said these market distinctions will blur as Freightliner puts its
unique engineering and manufacturing system to work to give emergency
and fire service customers a longer list of options, new technologies
and the flexibility to specify the vehicles that best meet their

The American LaFrance Eagle is available through nearly 60 of the
company's dealerships in the U.S. and Canada. The dealerships will
sell, service and support the fire trucks 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. The company will also sell the new American LaFrance trucks to
apparatus suppliers which in turn equip them with pumps, ladders and
more. Freightliner plans to continue servicing the American LaFrance
trucks already on the road.

The headquarters for American LaFrance manufacturing, engineering,
sales and customer support operations is in Cleveland, N.C., just
north of Charlotte and neighboring Freightliner's largest heavy truck
manufacturing plant. A new 87,500 square foot facility will be
complete later this year and will also include a museum to house a
collection of 16 fully-restored antique American LaFrance fire trucks,
archives and other historic data.

Freightliner Corporation, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, produces
and markets commercial vehicles in Class 4-8 and is a member of the
Mercedes-Benz AG group, the world's largest commercial vehicle
manufacturer. American LaFrance is a wholly owned subsidiary of
Freightliner Corporation.