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Kelpie Industries Ltd., the Australian company planning...

Kelpie Industries Ltd., the Australian company planning to build a better pickup truck, purchased a 360,000-square-foot plant in Monterrey, Mexico, for $1.7 million to build its Kelpie Kargo.

The first prototype of the truck was introduced in Los Angeles a year ago and featured a drop bed and tailgate design that eliminated the rear axle, allowing the entire truck bed to be lowered to ground level for easier loading and unloading.

“The acquisition of the Monterrey plant represents a turning point for the Kelpie Kargo entry into the North American market,” said Bob Honan, president and chief executive of Kelpie Industries U.S.A., which is based in Torrance. “With this purchase, the vehicle completes the transition from prototype to actual large-scale production.”

Kelpie will spend $20 million to refurbish the plant. The plant purchase was possible thanks to Socofi S.A., a Swiss financial institution, which purchased 49% of the Sydney company.

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Kelpie will begin producing the trucks, which will use Chrysler engines and drive trains, in late 1989. The Mexican plant, 150 miles south of Laredo, Tex., allows Kelpie to take advantage of Mexico’s maquiladora program, which exempts U.S. and other foreign equipment, parts and raw materials from import duties.


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