Compiled By Jonathan Katz Freightliner LLC, a Portland, Ore.-based heavy-truck manufacturer, and the England-based Mayflower Corp. announced the joint-venture opening of its Thomas Built Buses plant in Charlotte, N.C. Thomas Built Buses, a subsidiary of Freightliner, will feature the latest in "super low floor (SLF)" technology, designed lower to the ground for maneuvering in tight city streets, and parking lots. The 250,000 sq-ft plant cost an estimated $12.5 million to build and currently employs 110 people. "The SLF is a one-of-a-kind, midsized bus that will meet customers' demand for greater operational efficiency and comfort for drivers and passengers alike," says Freightliner President Jim Hebe. Thomas designed its new production process so both the bus body and chassis are manufactured in one plant, thus shortening the order lead time required of customers. Elsewhere in the industry the chassis and body are manufactured separately.