The History of Freightliner

Freightliner was founded in 1929 by a young driver James Leland from Portland. An enterprising and observant chauffeur, he understood the situation on the American trucking market very well. He understood that the only way to improve the efficiency of the trucking industry was to increase the tonnage of the trucks, so the trucks had to be equipped with more powerful engines. Discussions with the truck manufacturers about changing the general concept of the truck design led to nothing. James was simply not listened to.

James had nothing to do but to improve the existing trucks in his own fleet and adapt them to market needs. The engineers of Consolidated Freight Lines had been experimenting with the use of aluminum in the production of car parts: brake rods, suspension units and inner liners of vans (used as refrigerators) since the mid-30s. It was James who first came up with the idea of equipping the floor of the van with corrugated aluminum sheets with air ducts. This innovation made it possible to keep low temperatures longer and also ensured good air circulation inside the body. James also credited the COE body design (the cab is placed over the engine and does not protrude forward). Using this type of body was economically advantageous, because the shorter version of the cab allowed longer trailers to be built to hold larger loads. In 1937, the Fareon Truck and Coach Company added new cabover models to their fleets. Thanks to the new concept, the trucks quickly gained popularity, and by the end of the 1940s Consolidated was producing 40 more trucks. In 1950 Freightliner received an order from Hyster to produce a truck with a sleeper compartment. It was decided to use well-proven version of the COE truck. The truck was equipped with a 10-speed transmission with 19.5'' driveline. In order to adapt it for long-distance hauling, the cab was fitted with an adjustable Bostrom seat, a tachometer to record readings, and a device to put sand under the wheels in case of frost and poor traction.

In 1950, the company produced about a hundred cars a year. After signing a dealership agreement with the White Motor Corporation of Cleveland, Ohio, the company manages to reach 1,000 cars by 1960.

Toward the end of the 20th century, the company managed to take the first position in the U.S. market in sales of heavy duty trucks. In 1995, the company was acquired by American LaFrance, which specialized in the production of fire trucks and ambulances.

Over the next five years, the company made several other major investments: in 1997, an entire medium-duty truck division was bought from Ford and renamed to the Sterling brand; in 1998, bus manufacturer Thomas Built Buses was acquired, and in 2000, Western Star, a truck manufacturer. At present Freightliner is the largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in North America. The sales volume in 2000 was more than 151 000 vehicles. Do not forget to use Freightliner VIN decoder in order to avoid potential problems when buying a used car.

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