Autocar celebrates 124 years in operation

Autocar manufactures severe-duty vocational trucks in Birmingham.

Autocar’s DC-64D Dump Truck, an example of the company’s continued innovation in engineering and safety.

North America’s oldest truck brand, Autocar, is celebrating its 124th year of manufacturing.

The company that currently makes Class 7 and Class 8 severe-duty vocational trucks has a manufacturing facility in Hagerstown, Indiana, and Birmingham, where it has a 1-million-square-foot heavy-duty work truck plant.

“As we celebrate 124 years of the iconic Autocar brand, we appreciate those who have played such a big role in the company’s success,” said Andrew Taitz, chairman of Autocar Truck. “The early builders of Autocar-brand trucks were ahead of their time when they built Autocar No. 1 in 1897. That tricycle, powered by a one-cylinder gasoline engine, now resides in the Smithsonian Museum of American History.”

In 1897, Louis Semple Clark introduced the Autocar No. 1 to the world. Two years later, the vocational truck was engineered to carry and deliver packages — engineered specifically for a customer’s needs.

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Today, that same engineering philosophy is incorporated into each truck the company builds. Autocar does not have a dealer inventory. It designs its trucks specifically to accomplish a customer’s needs.

It is the only OEM to change the model for refuse truck production to bring together two main components — the chassis and the body — to build the truck as one complete tool. To do this, Autocar must know what the body of the truck will be used for and then engineer the vehicle specifically to handle that task.

Through the years, the company has continued to innovate. In 1907, the company heralded the first shaft-driven commercial vehicle for operation on solid tires. In 1923, America’s first electric trucks, the E1 and E2, carried the Autocar brand. Today, the company continues that innovation.

“The Autocar brand led the way in green innovation dating back to 1923 with its first two EV trucks: Autocar Truck E1 and Autocar Truck E2. This year, we introduced Autocar E-ACTT electric powertrain designed for severe-duty applications,” said Taitz. The E-ACTT is an emissions-free, all-electric version of its Autocar ACTT terminal tractor.

The company also started offering a compressed natural gas truck in 2017. Today, 60% of the trucks it sells are CNG and it is the largest supplier of Class 8 CNG trucks across all industries.

The company’s innovations also have focused on safety, with Autocar trucks showing 20% fewer accidents overall and 40% fewer accidents with injuries over all other manufacturers combined, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Autocar attributes this safety record to its design that gives drivers 325 degrees of visibility and a tight turning radius, leading to less backing and fewer collisions. In addition, the company uses all-steel cabs and wrap-around bumpers that are damage-resistant.

Autocar makes the ACMD and ACX cab-over trucks, the ACTT and E-ACTT terminal tractors and the DC-64 Class 8 work trucks. Earlier this year, the Class 8 DC-64D Dump Truck was named to Equipment Today’s 2021 Contractors’ Top 50 New Products listing.

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