Autocar - The First American Truck Brand

Autocar - The First American Truck Brand

What The Automotive Industry Was Missing 

The mid-1880s witnessed the birth of the gasoline-fueled automobile. While steam-driven and electric cars had been manufactured since the early 1780s, gasoline-fueled automobiles enabled vehicles to travel longer distances faster. However, automobiles couldn't effectively distribute goods and services brought in on steam-powered locomotives, which primarily ran through major metropolitan areas. At the dawn of the 20th century, the automotive industry lacked a conveyance that could transport large amounts of goods and services. Autocar would rise to meet that challenge head-on. 


Introduction to the Autocar Brand

In 1897, Louis Semple Clark introduced the world to "Autocar No. 1." Equipped with only three wheels, it ran via a single-cylinder gasoline engine. Just two years later, Autocar debuted America's very first truck that was commercially available. The 1899 Autocar vocational truck was engineered to carry and deliver packages. The truck's payload capacity was 700 pounds and had two options -- a 5-horsepower motor or an 8-horsepower motor. This purpose-built truck introduced the engine under the seat, the precursor for the company's cabover design used today. Even in 1899, Autocar was engineering and manufacturing its trucks specifically for their customers' needs.

The National Museum of American History states that in 1901, Autocar developed what is believed "to be the first shaft-driven car constructed in the United States. In November 1901, this car was driven from the factory in Ardmore, Pa., to the auto show in New York City's Madison Square Garden in just over six hours. The 1901 Autocar has a water-cooled shaft-driven two-cylinder horizontal-opposed engine with a selective sliding-gear transmission." The Autocar No. 1 is in the Smithsonian National Musicum of American History in Washington, D.C.

While the company made both cars and trucks from 1897 -1911, in 1911 the company stopped making cars and became a truck manufacturer exclusively. 

In 1923, Autocar manufactured America's first electric trucks, the E1 and E2. 

Subsequent years saw Autocar expanding, bringing innovation to the trucking industry. In 1953, White Motor Company acquired the company. A few decades later, in 1981, the Swedish company AB Volvo acquired all White Motor Company’s assets, including the Autocar branding. This led to the formation of Volvo White Truck Corporation. Then, in 2001, GVW Group, LLC purchased the Autocar brand to form the Autocar, LLC you know and love today. The Autocar brand returned to its roots as an American-owned brand for purpose-building the highest-performing severe-service trucks.

Today, features like a circulating oil system and drive shafts have become commonplace. Again, Autocar's progressive, high-quality vision helped shape these kinds of features. 


Importance of Being Assembled in the U.S. And U.S.-Owned 

"Always Up" means that Autocar offers better performance for business growth. Autocar is honored to carry the oldest severe-duty vocational truck brand in the U.S. and offer the only Class 7 and Class 8 cabover trucks assembled in America and America-owned. This is our home. And it's your home too. Autocar believes that you're more than a customer. Once you purchase an Autocar truck, you become part of the Autocar family. Because of that, we are proud of the vocational trucks we build, and we stand behind them with our 24/7 service command center. 


Autocar's Innovation 

The Autocar brand has a long history of being the first truck manufacturer to introduce innovation. Here are just a few of the Autocar brand's early breakthrough innovative firsts:

1899 – Autocar built the first motor truck commercially available in the U.S.

  • Introduced the engine under the seat, known today as a cabover truck

1901 – Autocar was the first truck manufacturer to introduce the shaft-driven vehicle, replacing chain-driven propulsion systems of the day.

1907 – Autocar XVIII truck

  • The first left-side drive vehicleso drivers could see better
  • The first double reduction rear axle, for smoother power transmission
  • The first American porcelain-insulated spark plug, later sold to A.C. Champion
  • The first circulating oil system

1923 – Autocar manufactured America's first electric trucks, the E1 and E2

Fast forward to today, earlier this year, Autocar, LLC introduced its newest innovation - an all-electric version of its Autocar ACTT terminal tractor, the E-ACTT. As Green Car Congress reported, "The E-ACTT is the same reliable, heavy-duty Autocar ACTT but is all-electric. Autocar Truck has been a key innovator in the E.V. truck market, dating back to 1923 when we designed our first two E.V. trucks, Autocar Truck E1 and E2."



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