Freightliner celebrates 80 Years of Heavy-Duty Truck Manufacturing

Portland, Oregon headquartered Freightliner is celebrating 80 years as a leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. The Daimler Truck owned brand’s commitment to innovation, technology and responsive customer relationships has made Freighliner one of the most respected names in the industry.

In 1939, Leland James conceived and produced the first lightweight, short wheelbase diesel cab over trailer, establishing the Freightliner brand. The Model 600 was introduced in 1942 and was the industry’s first commercial vehicle with an all-aluminum cab. By 1947, truck production had begun in Portland, and the Freightliner plant was built on Swan Island in 1952. Freightliner is the best-selling brand of heavy-duty trucks in North America, the company’s latest model, the Freightliner eCascadia began customer delivery in early November.

The American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) recognized Freightliner’s pioneering efforts in the trucking industry with the induction of Leland James into The American Trucking and Industry Leader (ATIL) Hall of Fame on Oct. 26, 2022. John O’Leary, president & CEO of Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), accepted the award at the American Truck Historical Society Induction Ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri, an event launched in May of 2021 honoring the legacy and contributions of prominent trucking leaders.

“Our goal is to create the best products for our customers. For 80 years, our customers have been the inspiration behind every innovation we’ve brought to market. We want to give them a truck that helps them be successful. By putting the emphasis on quality through research and development, and real-world testing, combined with our ongoing, technologically inspired, passionate drive, we create the best-of-the-best trucks on the road,” said Mary Aufdemberg, general manager of product strategy and market development at DTNA. “The inspiration we get from our customers is what pushes us to innovate for the next 80 years.”

From the first 90-degree tilt cab to advancements in fuel economy, telematics and aerodynamics, Freightliner has a long history of revolutionary industry firsts. Throughout its history, Freightliner has been focused on purposeful innovation, advancing safety and providing an unrivaled network of support:

  • The first Freightliner trucks used aluminum and magnesium to reduce the truck’s weight and maximize the freight they could carry and were the first trucks with diesel engine technology. 
  • Freightliner was the first to introduce ABS to the commercial vehicle industry. 
  • Freightliner’s proprietary AirLiner suspension gave drivers new levels of driving comfort, cushioning the cab with airbags built into the suspension.
  • Freightliner pioneered the most innovative safety systems in the industry and built the eCascadia, the safest commercial vehicle in the industry. 
  • Freightliner offers nearly 500 service locations and the reliability of a dedicated support staff, from factory-certified technicians to Freightliner’s 24/7 toll-free hotline operators.
  • Freightliner achieved “zero waste-to-landfill” status in 2010 and has moved the world toward cleaner, quieter, and more efficient operations, all while supporting customers to meet their sustainability goals.