Freightliner Trucks
Type division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC
Founded 1942 (as Freightliner LLC)
Headquarters Portland, Oregon, United States
Key people Chris Patterson, President, CEO
Juergen Kritschgau, CFO, Finance and Control
Roger M. Nielsen, COO
Industry Heavy Truck and Chassis Manufacturer
Products Trucks
Revenue (turnover) $32.294 billion USD (2006)
Operating income $3.014 billion USD (2006)
Net income $1.806 billion USD (2006)
Employees approximately 24,000 (2007)
Parent Daimler AG
Freightliner - reg CBZ 457 - front - at Scorton NY 09 - IMG 2360

A customised Freightliner truck at a UK show

Freightliner tractor unit - CBZ 457 at Pickering 09 - IMG 3565

A Freightliner tractor unit with sleeper box at the Pickering Steam Rally in the UK

Freightliner Trucks is a manufacturer of heavy duty trucks, chassis and semi-trailer trucks in the United States. The company was founded as Freightliner LLC in 1942 and is now a division of Daimler Trucks North America, a subsidiary of Daimler AG.[1] The company is known mainly for the heavy duty class 8 diesel trucks that it produces, as well as class 5-7 trucks.

As of 2005 Freightliner is the largest manufacturer of heavy duty trucks in North America with annual earnings of over $32 billion (2006 est.) and over 22,000 employees (including Detroit Diesel). Due to the fact that Freightliner LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler, a non American corporation, it is not included in Fortune 500 rankings. Were it to be ranked however it would list as the 125th largest company in America based on the criterion used in said ranking.

History Edit

Early yearEdit

In the 1930s, Consolidated Freightways decided to produce their own truck line out of reconstructed Fageols, after finding that most existing heavy trucks did not have sufficient power to climb the steep grades found in the mountain regions of the western United States. The trucks were branded "Freightliners", with the first units produced in Consolidated Freightways' maintenance facility in Salt Lake City ca. 1942. After production was interrupted during WWII, manufacturing began again, in CF's home of Portland, Oregon. The first truck sold outside of Consolidated Freightways went to fork lift manufacturer Hyster, also based in Portland. Today, that truck is in the Smithsonian collection in Washington, D.C.[2]

Lacking distribution capability, and seeking higher volume to reduce production costs, CF entered into an agreement to sell their trucks through the White Motor Company, of Cleveland, OH, and their dealer network in the U.S. and Canada. This relationship would endure for the next quarter century, and the co-branded "White Freightliner" high cab-over-engine models became a familiar sight on the highways across the continent, far from its roots in the Pacific Northwest.


Manufacturing began in Burnaby, B.C., in 1961, to reduce the duty penalty on the complete vehicles sold in Canada. Assembly plants in Indianapolis and Chino, CA, complemented the main plant on Swan Island in Portland, serving the U.S. market. In 1969, an all-new assembly plant was opened on North Basin St., about a mile from the older building, which in turn was converted to exclusively produce parts for production line.


White Motor Company was in trouble in the 1970s. Expansion into white goods and agricultural machinery consumed capital without producing a return, and the relationship with Consolidated Freightways became frayed. In 1974, the distribution agreement was terminated, and Freightliner Corp. began life as a freestanding manufacturer and distributor. Many of the first dealers were from the White Motor Co. network, but some entrepreneurs also signed up to represent the popular trucks without the White Motor Co. franchise as a complement.

At the same time, the company introduced its first conventional model, an adaptation of the high cab-over-engine mainstay product. HCOE's accounted for well over 50% of the U.S. market in those days, owing to restrictive overall length regulations that limited the bumper-to-taillight dimension of a semi-trailer unit to 55' on interstate highways. However, conventionals were popular on western roads owing to more convenient ingress/egress, better ride, and easier access to the engine when service was required.

In 1979, a new plant was constructed in Mount Holly, North Carolina, and, nearby, a parts manufacturing plant in Gastonia, North Carolina, both in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Volumes continued to build.

1979 marked another very consequential event in the evolution of Freightliner, and of the whole trucking and truck manufacturing industries. President Carter signed into law bills deregulating transport both on the ground and in the skies, which fundamentally altered the "rules of the game" for both. The echoes are still being felt today, with the financial crises being endured by the mainstream airlines. Deregulation changed the economics of trucking, and removed the protective shield of regulated carriage that protected carriers from competition and allowed the Teamsters Union to develop a stranglehold on the nation's economy by virtue of the Master Agreement with all significant freight transport companies.


Three years later, the Surface Highway Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 relaxed weight and length standards and imposed a new excise tax on heavy trucks and the tires that they use. No longer was the overall length of semi-trailer combinations restricted; rather, only the trailer was specified, to be not greater than 53' in length. Individual states retained more restrictive overall length laws, but fundamentally, the rules had changed forever.

Consolidated Freightways, a traditional, unionized carrier that flourished in the pre-deregulated era, realized it was in a fight for its life. In May 1981, Consolidated Freightways sold its truck manufacturing business and the Freightliner brand to Daimler-Benz, allowing it to concentrate its management attention and financial resources on its traditional trucking business. Around this time, the Chino and Indianapolis plants were shut permanently. Consolidated Freightways continued its carrier business until 2002, when it closed its doors forever on Labour Day weekend.

In 1989, Freightliner acquired a standing plant in Cleveland, North Carolina, near Statesville, that had been producing transit buses for German manufacturer MAN, apparently without profit.


In 1991, the company displaced a poor-selling line of Mercedes-Benz medium duty vehicles with an all-new, range of medium duty trucks designed for North America that the company called the Business Class. Sharing some cab components with the Mercedes-Benz LKN mid-range European cabover, the truck was a conventional design which was the first all-new entry in the medium-duty market in over a decade. It proved quite successful.

Another pronounced downturn in the industry's fortunes necessitated drastic measures to restore the company to financial health, and Dr. Dieter Zetsche, now the Chairman of Daimler's Board Of Management, was dispatched to lead the project as CEO. The Burnaby assembly plant was closed, a new facility in St. Thomas, Ontario, replaced it, and cost reduction programs in all corners of the company restored profitability when the market rebounded.

Significantly, production of Freightliners also commenced for the first time in Santiago Tianguistenco, Mexico, about 30 miles (48 km) outside Mexico City, in a plant owned by Daimler-Benz and also producing at that time buses, Brazilian-sourced medium-duty trucks, and compact Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.

The 90s were a go-go era for truck manufacturers in general, and for Freightliner in particular, under the leadership of flamboyant James L. Hebe, a former Kenworth sales executive who joined the company in 1989. Freightliner became the leading heavy truck nameplate in 1992, added new products at a rapid clip throughout the period, and made a number of acquisitions as well:

  • 1995 - Oshkosh Custom Chassis in Gaffney, South Carolina becomes Freightliner Custom Chassis, producing the underpinnings for walk-in vans used by companies like UPS to deliver parcels and Cintas for uniform laundry services; diesel recreational vehicles; conventional school buses; and shuttle buses. It should be noted that the Oshkosh and Freightliner partnership has dissolved, and Oshkosh is not affiliated with Freightliner any longer.[citation (source) needed]
  • 1996 - American LaFrance, a 130 year-old manufacturer of fire apparatus that was Mr. Hebe's first employer. LaFrance had fallen on hard times and was moribund at the time of the acquisition.
  • 1997 - the heavy duty truck ("AeroMax") products of the Ford Motor Co. were acquired, and renamed Sterling (from an early White Motors brand). Ford dedicated its monstrous Louisville, KY, facility to more profitable light truck production
  • 1998 - Thomas Built Buses, of High Point, NC, producer of all classes of school bus bodies, and forward control chassis.
  • 2000 - Western Star Trucks, Inc., the successor to the White Motor Co. of Canada, and its assembly plants in Kelowna, BC, and Ladson, SC.
  • 2000 - Detroit Diesel Corp., Redford, MI, the former General Motors subsidiary had been revived by Roger Penske and was attractive to DaimlerChrysler as a point of entry into the North American heavy duty diesel industry. This company was actually acquired by another unit of DaimlerChrysler, but operations were gradually integrated into Freightliner.

New millennium - 2000 - 2007 Edit

Throughout this era, as well, a number of small fire and rescue apparatus manufacturers were acquired and rolled into the American LaFrance entity.

However, by 2001, the company was awash in used trucks it couldn't sell, and saddled with a number of non-performing operations at a time when the core business, still the Freightliner over-the-road truck offerings, was in recession. Former Freightliner CFO Rainer Schmueckle was dispatched by DaimlerChrysler to once again turn the company around. The Kelowna Western Star plant was closed, as was a Thomasbuilt facility in Woodstock, Ontario and parts manufacturing at the old Portland plant was discontinued. American LaFrance production was consolidated in the former Western Star plant in Ladson, SC, but the attempt to integrate complex, specialized emergency vehicles into a company noted for high volume production capabilities ultimately proved unworkable, and American LaFrance was sold late in 2005 to a private equity fund.[citation (source) needed]

2007 - Current timeEdit

After DaimlerChrysler sold the Chrysler division and changed their name to Daimler AG in 2007, it was announced Freightliner LLC will be a division of the new Daimler Trucks North America LLC on January 7, 2008.

In 2007, Freightliner laid off 800 US workers from their Portland, Oregon plant, relocating manufacturing work to their new multimillion-dollar plant in Mexico. Dawn Zimmer, a laid-off worker from the Portland, Oregon plant told the press that Freightliner "came in and videotaped us at work so they could train the Mexican workers."[citation (source) needed]

Today, Freightliner remains the leading brand in heavy-duty trucks, and in commercial vehicles in classes 5 through 8 in North America. It leads the school bus, diesel Class A recreational vehicle chassis, and walk-in van markets. Its Detroit Diesel and Mercedes-Benz engine offerings are also industry leaders.[citation (source) needed] The Freightliner badge also adorns the Sprinter, a Class 2 van produced by Mercedes-Benz in Europe and marketed through Freightliner dealers, as well as through Chrysler dealers as a Dodge-branded offering.


Business Class M2

  • Business Class M2e Hybrid
  • Business Class M2 106
  • Business Class M2 112
  • Business Class M2 106V
  • Business Class M2 112V
  • C2 (bus chassis)

Cabover Engine semi-trailer cab
Cascadia (code named P3)
Century Class

  • Century C120
  • Century Class S/T (code named P2)

CL 120 64 ST
Classic Series

  • Classic
  • Classic XL


  • Coronado SD


  • FL
  • FL 112
  • FL 50
  • FL 60
  • FL 70
  • FL 80


  • FLA
  • FLA 104
  • FLA 104 64
  • FLA 75
  • FLA 7542T
  • FLA 8662
  • FLA 8664T
  • FLA 9664
  • FLA 9664T


  • FLB
  • FLB 100 42T
  • FLB 104 64
  • FLB 9664


  • FLC
  • FLC 112
  • FLC 112 62 ST
  • FLC 120
  • FLC 120 64
  • FLC 120 64 T


  • FLD
  • FLD 112
  • FLD 120 42 S
  • FLD 120 64 ST
  • FLD 120 64 T
  • FLD 120 HD
  • FLD 120 SD
  • FLD 120 SFFA
  • FLD 132 64T Classic XL
  • FLD-SD
  • FLD 120


  • FLT
  • FLT 6442
  • FLT 9664
  • FLT 7564


Freightliner Sprinter
Step Van

  • Step Van MT-45
  • Step Van MT-55


Freightliner in the UKEdit

Freightliner like other US makes are fairly rare as UK regs Differ and a lot of US trucks are not configured for UK use. A few examples are used on Jobs were the normal length limit is not an issue, such as tankers and bulk tippers or special types work. Others are used mainly as show trucks.

List of Preserved Freightliner trucks in the UK
view  talk  edit

Registration No. Make-Model or type no Build-Year Engine-Make/Type Weight/class Chassis/Body type Owner
(if known)
Photo Were seen/Featured Other info
CBZ 457 Freightliner  ?  ?  ? Bonneted tractor unit owner ? Freightliner tractor unit - CBZ 457 at Pickering 09 - IMG 3565 At Pickering Steam Rally 2009 Has custom artwork on back of the cab
Image needed LHB

Image needed LHB

Please add any truck with known reg or serial no. with Photo if possible.
Create a page (link) for an individual truck by linking the reg or serial number using [[Truck make-model-reg no.|reg number]] or [[Truck make-model-serial no.|serial number]] in the relevant column. Then once saved click the red link to start the new page and add info on that truck.

See alsoEdit

References / sourcesEdit

External links Edit

Martin Crutsinger, 'Factory jobs: 3 million lost since 2000' By , AP Economics Writer, Apr 20, 2007

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