PEORIA — Caterpillar Inc. is out of the dump truck business. The company announced Friday that it would discontinue production of on-highway vocational trucks.

The announcement comes less than a year after Caterpillar proposed to build its own trucks.

An estimated 70 jobs will be impacted by the move with staff reductions beginning in March and taking place “over a period of time,” said spokeswoman Rachel Potts.

The 70 positions are within and supporting the on-highway truck group. Those positions are located primarily in the Peoria area and San Antonio, Texas. In the Peoria area, the impact is approximately 30 positions, she said.

“We are still evaluating impact on the approximately 20 positions in Victoria, Texas that support the truck program,” said Potts.

Caterpillar launched its first vocational truck in the North American market in 2011, working with Navistar on product design and construction. Last year, the company announced its intention to begin independently designing and manufacturing its vocational truck products at the Caterpillar plant in Victoria, Texas.

“We didn’t mess around when we set out to develop our new line of vocational trucks,” noted the Caterpillar website that promoted the CT660 model.

“We spent hundreds of hours on the road asking customers to describe the ideal truck. Our design team rode alongside drivers and gathered input on everything from specs and comfort to visibility and performance,” stated the company’s online truck promotion.

Rather than follow through with plans to build the ideal truck, Caterpillar opted to scratch the project

“Remaining a viable competitor in this market would require significant additional investment to develop and launch a complete portfolio of trucks, and upon an updated review, we determined there was not a sufficient market opportunity to justify the investment,” said Ramin Younessi, vice president with Caterpillar’s industrial power systems division.

“We have not yet started truck production in Victoria. This decision allows us to exit this business before the transition occurs,” he said.

Production in Victoria was slated to begin by the first half of this year.

Caterpillar said it would stop taking orders for the CT660, CT680 and CT681 work trucks immediately but will continue to offer customer support for trucks already on the road.

The scuttling of the truck program is the latest cut in the company’s ongoing cost reduction effort.

Caterpillar has called for the elimination of $1.5 billion in costs over the next few years. That plan has included the closing and consolidation of plants and the elimination of 10,000 jobs by 2018, the company has stated.

Steve Tarter is Journal Star business editor. Tarter’s phone number is 686-3260, and his email address is Follow him on Twitter @SteveTarter