DAF Trucks celebrates 90 years in business

Dutch truck manufacturing company, DAF Trucks, has reflected on its nine-decade journey from being a small construction workshop in the Netherlands to becoming a global business focused on innovation, quality and transport efficiency.

According to DAF, Dutch engineer, Hub Van Doorne opened his workshop on 1 April 1928 in the corner of the local Coolen Brewery in Eindhoven. Initial work included welding and forging for the city and local companies like lamp and radio manufacturer Philips.

The Great Depression reportedly inspired Doorne – together with his brother Wim – to expand their services. The workshop evolved into a trailer manufacturing business in 1932 and the company name was changed into Van Doorne’s Aanhangwagen Fabriek (Van Doorne’s semi-trailer factory), abbreviated to DAF.

In 1949, the first DAF truck entered production and the company name became Van Doorne’s Automobiel Fabriek. A year later, a dedicated truck factory was built and production started with three-, five- and six-tonne truck chassis.

“In the early days, DAF installed Hercules and Perkins petrol and diesel engines, but in 1957 the Eindhoven company designed and began manufacturing the first DAF-branded engines,” said DAF. “Two years later, DAF improved the DD575 diesel engine by adding a turbo charger which was another ground-breaking achievement. DAF introduced turbo intercooling as an industry-first in 1973. The technology was initially developed to meet the demand for higher engine outputs and lower fuel consumption, but also proved to be indispensable in realising cleaner exhaust emissions. In the 1980s, DAF launched ATi, Advanced Turbo Intercooling which provided further power and efficiency gains through a further refinement of injection technology and an optimised shape of the combustion chamber.”

In 2005, DAF unveiled the PACCAR MX engine that is now installed in all of DAF’s heavy-duty trucks and over 40 per cent of Kenworth and Peterbilt built trucks. The latest generation MX-13 and MX-11 engines feature extremely efficient down speeded engines, intelligent drive lines and efficient rear axles that result in high torque being available at “impressively” low engine speeds for unmatched fuel efficiency and the highest driver comfort. Together with advanced vehicle software algorithms, excellent aerodynamics and a new compact after-treatment system, these DAF innovations result in a fuel efficiency gain of 7 per cent, the largest fuel efficiency gain in the history of the company.

The first DAF trucks from the late 40s, early 50s left the plant as just a chassis with in front of the engine the characteristic grille with seven chrome bars and a temporary seat made of wood. The DAF chassis were driven to bodybuilders for the mounting of a custom and locally made cab. In 1951, DAF introduced its own cab, with round corners and a slanted front grill for better aerodynamics. Driver comfort was enhanced by the introduction of a suspended seat.

In the 1960s, DAF further enhanced driver comfort with the first cab designed for inter-national transport. The DAF 2600 offered two beds and windows all around for a spa-cious feeling and an optimal view on the road. Power brakes and power steering eased the demanding job of the driver. The 2600 is now considered to be the first of all inter-national transport trucks. In 1969, DAF was one of the earliest manufacturers to introduce a tilting mechanism for the cab-over engine model, which greatly improved maintenance access.

With the introduction of the Space Cab concept in 1988, DAF enhanced its leadership position as a truck manufacturer with its full focus on both operating costs and the driver. With the remarkable Space Cab concept, DAF again set new standards in cab size and comfort for international transport. Together with the even larger Super SpaceCab which was introduced in 1994, DAF cabs continue to be the benchmark when it comes to driver comfort and roominess.

In 1996, DAF became a PACCAR company and has continued its leadership position as a global technology leader with major developments in trucks, engines, and state-of-the-art facilities.

In 2015, DAF demonstrated truck platooning. The EcoTwin vehicle system enabled trailing vehicles to automatically follow the lead truck resulting in lower fuel consumption, reduced CO2-emissions and improved traffic flow. Due to EcoTwin’s success, DAF was selected to exclusively participate in English platooning trials in 2017. DAF is engaged with leading European technology development projects to gain comprehensive experience with alternative electric and hybrid power trains.

DAF is driving business globally with its class trucks manufactured in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and Brazil, and DAF products are reportedly sold by 1,100 independent dealers on five continents.

DAF trucks are backed by industry leading services provided by PACCAR Parts and PACCAR Financial. Fleets are supported by Europe’s best roadside assistance, Inter-national Truck Service (ITS) and DAF Connect, DAF’s advanced fleet-management system.

“DAF provides a complete range of excellent trucks that offer the industry’s lowest operating costs, best transport efficiency and highest driver comfort,” said Preston Feight, DAF president. “Thanks to the wonderful team of over 10,000 dedicated people who design build, sell and support its quality trucks, engines, parts and services DAF is well positioned to continue growing successfully around the world.”

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