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
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
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