blank 09/05/14 09:31AM Business Class Trucks, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Heavy Duty Truck

Detroit Celebrates 75 Years of Tradition and Innovation

This year marks 75 years of operation for Detroit Diesel Corporation and its advancement of fuel efficiency, sustainability and superior engine performance for the heavy duty truck market. Starting with the production of the first Detroit engine in March 1938, the Daimler Trucks North America subsidiary has a long history of innovative powertrain solutions, which today includes the Detroit family of heavy-duty engines, transmissions and axles.


“The Detroit brand was built on strength, quality and tradition,” Brad Williamson, Manager, Engine and Component Marketing for Daimler Trucks North America. “For the past 75 years, the company has consistently met the demands of our customers and the industry by pioneering new products and technological advances. That commitment has made Detroit what it is today.”

Originally founded as the General Motors Diesel Division, Detroit’s strength, quality and tradition have been on display through multiple product and technology introductions throughout the years. With the market launch of the Series 60® in 1987, for example, Detroit began to forge the path for cleaner and fuel-efficient heavy-duty engines.

“The Series 60 is an important part of our history,” said Williamson. “It was the first production engine to have integrated electronic controls as a standard feature, and ultimately became the most popular heavy-duty diesel engine in the North American Class 8 truck market.”

The company officially changed its name to Detroit Diesel Corporation in 1988 as part of a joint venture between Penske Corporation and General Motors, and in 2000 became part of the Daimler family.

“Through our transitions, we have continued our commitment to innovation and product development,” said Williamson. “Detroit has made several moves that reinforced our dedication to enhancing vehicle performance and improving a driver’s bottom line.”

From a $350 million investment to refurbish the Redford manufacturing plant in 2005, to launching the Detroit DD15® engine in 2007 and the implementation of BlueTec® SCR emissions technology in 2010, Detroit has continued its emphasis on performance and sustainability. The DD13® and DD16® designed for the vocational market rounded out the Detroit Diesel family of EPA engines and were launched in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

Most recently, the introduction of Detroit™ axles and the Detroit DT12™ automated manual transmission marked the completion of the Detroit integrated powertrain. As part of Daimler Trucks’ Global Excellence Strategy to have uniform production standards and processes worldwide, the integrated powertrain results in the most efficient, highest quality and lowest cost of ownership products in the industry. The new powertrain related component line as well as the Detroit family of engines equipped with BlueTec emissions technology, were all renamed under the new Detroit brand name in 2012.

Also joining the Detroit brand family in 2012 was Virtual Technician — the company’s revolutionary real-time diagnostic system. The on-board diagnostic system provides real-time engine diagnostics, enabling drivers and fleet managers to quickly and accurately evaluate events. Detroit™ Virtual Technician comes standard on every EPA 2010 and later Freightliner truck (optional on Western Star trucks) equipped with a Detroit engine.

Pacing the industry in emissions compliance and fuel efficiency, the Detroit family of updated 2013 engines were engineered to meet Greenhouse Gas 2014 (GHG14) regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Safety Administration. The newly designed heavy-duty engines reinforce Detroit’s commitment to sustainability and combine engine, electronics and BlueTec emissions technology improvements to benefit fuel economy. A 1-Box™ package with fewer parts universally configured for all trucks as well as a new fuel filter system also results in improved serviceability.

“We’re driven by those same tenets of strength, quality and tradition that have been in place since 1938,” said Williamson. “We will continue to pace the industry in developing products that meet emissions regulations and achieve optimal fuel efficiency. We’re proud of our legacy and look forward to the next challenge.”

Detroit celebrated its 75th anniversary with a day of festivities in July dedicated to all the employees who made it possible. The employee appreciation event was held on the Redford campus and recognized the more than 2,300 Detroit employees who currently work at the Redford facility, as well as the company’s 2,000 retirees. Since 1938, Detroit has employed approximately 15,000 Michigan residents.

“Our employee appreciation event provided us with the opportunity to not only commemorate our history but to celebrate all of the hard working people behind the brand and the products,” said Williamson. “We are proud of our contributions to not only Southeast Michigan but to the transportation industry as well. Detroit has been at the forefront of product innovation since the beginning and we will continue to develop industry leading products that have a global impact.”

Since its inception in 1938, Detroit has built more than four million engines at its three million square-foot manufacturing plant in Redford. Over the past ten years, Daimler Trucks North America has invested more than $750 million in the Detroit plant, making it one of the most state-of-the-art powertrain manufacturing facilities in the world.

Detroit’s complete line of engines and axles for the commercial transportation industry in both the on-highway and vocational markets are sold and serviced through a network of more than 800 locations throughout North America.

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