History of the Detroit Diesel Company

The Detroit Diesel Corporation (DDC) first began back in 1938 during the great depression and still remains a successful company to date. DDC is a manufacturer of American made heavy-duty engines and chassis components for the highway and vocational commercial truck markets. Their product line includes diesel engines, transmissions, and axles. Their manufacturer headquarters are located in Detroit, Michigan. DDC is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America, a company owned by the German Daimler AG. Throughout the years, Detroit Diesel has continued to expand and produce reliable, heavy duty trucks for commercial use. Later on, Detroit Diesel started producing smaller, two-cycle engines originally developed by the GM Research Division. GM then formed General Motors Diesel Division (GMDD) for its Detroit and Cleveland diesel products marketed to the average consumer rather than the large scale market. Since 1939, Detroit Diesel has built more than 5 million engines with more than 1 million of those engines still in use to date.

Detroit Diesel and World War II to Today

During World War II there was a dire need for compact, lightweight, two-cycle engines for tanks, road building equipment, tanks and standby generators. In 1943 Detroit Diesel produced 57,892 engines after employing 4,300 people with more than 1,400 of them women. At this time they launched the Series 110 engines which were used in rail cars, construction equipment and power generators. Later in the 1950s, the use of GM’s Detroit Diesel spread across the commercial world after succeeding in the wide use of their engines in military applications. Heavy-duty engines needed for long-distance trucks were developed and soon after, a network of independent, authorized dealers and distributors was created worldwide to enable these products to be serviced and repaired. The Series 53 engine was created in 1957 by Detroit Diesel, putting the Series 71 engines to use for both on-highway and off-road use. Now the majority of all Series designed engine parts were interchangeable which facilitated production of many different models with varying horsepower, which was done by adding more cylinders. All during the 1960s sales tripled and for about 20 years after sales continued to increase. In 1965, Detroit Diesel first introduced the Series 149 engine used in workboats, 100 ton-plus mining trucks and push boats. During the energy crisis around 1974, a more fuel efficient Series 92 engine was introduced, creating a fuel savings of 10-20% over previous models with the same horsepower. These engines were now impossible to compete with. In 1980 DD produced their first four-cycle engine, later on to be the company's most well known engine, the Series 60. This was the first production engine with electronic controls as an integrated standard feature. This engine was cleaner and much more fuel-efficient than their previous heavy-duty engines, therefore it became the biggest selling Class 8 truck diesel engine in the North American market. Detroit Diesel built its 4 millionth engine in 1999. In 2005, Detroit Diesel Corporation invested $350 million in order to refurbish and retool its plant. Soon after in 2007, the DD engine platform was born and the DD15 engine was first created. In 2010, the production of EPA certified engines began and in 2011 DDC was recognized as one of the only two Michigan Green Leaders.