Freightliner Trucks is a well-known American manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks as well as truck chassis and semi-trailer or tractor trucks and is now a division of Daimler Trucks North America, which is a subsidiary of the German Daimler AG.

Freightliner the early years

Freightliner Trucks has been known as Freightliner Inc since 1942, but it actually has an earlier history in the 1930s as Consolidated Freightways. Consolidated Freightways began developing its own truck line by rebuilding Fageols in an attempt to improve the capabilities of heavy trucks to scale the steep slopes of the mountainous regions of the western part of the United States.

These trucks were called “Freightliners” hence the beginning of the future of Freightliner Trucks Company. The first trucks were built at the Consolidated Freightways factory in Salt Lake City in 1942, the same year the company became Freightliner.

World War II temporarily halted truck production at Freightliner, but in 1949 it returned to the truck manufacturing business in Portland, Oregon. That first truck sold was bought by a fork life manufacturer named Hyster and that vehicle now has pride of place at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

The company partnered with the White Motor Company in 1951 in Cleveland, Ohio, to help it sell trucks because Freightliner lacked a way to distribute its vehicles. The association lasted about 25 years and the trucks in that relationship were known as “White Freightliner” trucks.

Freightliner in the 1960s and 1970s hippie years

In the early 1960s, Freightliner was looking for ways to cut costs, such as penalizing import duties on trucks made in Burnaby, BC. To do this, they opened assembly plants in Indianapolis, Indiana. and in Chino, California.

In 1974, Freightliner ended its relationship with White Motor Company due to financial problems for that company. Freightliner became an independent truck manufacturer and distributor. Around this time, Freightliner launched its first traditional truck model, which was an adaptation of what was a high-cab engine model. At the time, these trucks accounted for 50 percent of the market due to length regulations that impose bumper limitations on tail light measurements on trailer trucks.

The company continued to prosper, opening new manufacturing plants in Mount Holly, North Carolina and Gastonia, North Carolina in 1979. That year marked another milestone for the trucking industry when President Carter signed new laws that deregulated transportation rules as much for land and air transport. This deregulation changed the way the trucking industry economics operated and removed the industry’s protection against competition, allowing the Teamsters Union to develop a strong position thanks to a Framework Agreement entered into with each of the main freight transport companies in the country.

Freightliner in the 1980s by Preppie

The 1980s brought with it the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, which made further changes for the trucking industry by relaxing weight and length rules and implementing a new excise tax on heavy trucks and heavy duty tires. truck. It made the overall length of the trucks unrestricted, however the trailer itself was now restricted and could not be more than 53 feet long.

Freightliner had done well during the years when the trucking industry was deregulated, but by 1981 it was having problems, so the company was sold to Daimler-Benz. It also had to close plants in Chino, California. and Indianapolis, Indiana. However, in 1989, Freightliner was able to purchase an existing plant in Cleveland, North Carolina, that previously manufactured transit buses.

More changes for Freightliner in the burgeoning 1990s

In 1991, Freightliner was getting better and was able to introduce a new series of medium-weight trucks that it called “Business Class.” This was the first truck on the middleweight market in over 10 years and it was a huge success.

Freightliners also began manufacturing trucks in Santiago Tianguistenco, Mexico, near Mexico City, at a plant owned by Daimler-Benz. The 1990s ended up being a good time for the trucking industry, and Freightliner also flourished. At the time, Frieghtliner was under the leadership of James L. Hebe, who had come to the company in 1989.

Several notable products produced in the 1990s included what became the Freightliner Custom Chassis, which was produced for vans used by companies such as UPS and Cintas, as well as school buses, diesel RVs, and shuttle buses in 1995, and in 1997. a heavy weight. The truck named “AeroMax” was purchased from Ford Motor Company and Freightliner renamed the truck series “Sterling”.

Freightliner The Modern Era

In 2000, Freightliner acquired what used to be Detroit Diesel Corp., which has been a subsidiary of General Motors. Daimler later integrated Detroit Diesel into Freightliner, making the company even bigger. Unfortunately, you may have bought more than you could handle right now, and by the following year, you had far more trucks than was in demand. The company was having financial problems, so its former CFO, Rainer Schmueckle, returned to help get the company back in shape.

Over the next two years, several plants were closed or consolidated in the hope that Freightliner would wear black again. In 2007 it had other problems when workers at the Cleveland, North Carolina plant called a strike and as a result 700 employees were fired. Most were rehired about a week later. That same year, the company had to lay off 800 workers in Portland, Oregon, when it moved that plant to Mexico, and on January 1. On December 7, 2008, the company became known as Daimler Trucks North America.

Freightliner today

These days, Freightliner Trucks is as active as ever in manufacturing five through eight series heavy duty trucks in North America, leading the Class A diesel truck and recreational vehicle chassis markets. Freightliner is also responsible. of a Class 2 van called the Sprinter that is marketed through Freightliner for Mercedes-Benz in Europe.

In January 2012, Freightliner had plans to hire 1,100 more workers for its Cleveland, North Carolina plant, to add to the already 1,500 workers there. This is a temporary measure due to increased demand for Cascadia trucks. Freightliner continues to be popular in the industry for making some of the most durable and reliable heavyweight trucks on the road today.

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