Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki

A restored Tilling-Stevens flatbed reg NTO 143 at Wymswold Steam Rally 2008

W.A. Stevens was established in Maidstone, Kent in 1897 and had by 1906 built its first petrol-electric vehicle. A petrol engine was connected to an electrical generator and the current produced passed to a traction motor which drove the rear wheels. According to the website of the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Trust [1] the simpler to operate petrol-electric transmission was popular among bus drivers rather than the conventional crash gearbox (in the days before synchromesh) as few bus staff had previously driven motor vehicles.


As it was so popular the company was purchased by a large bus operator, Thomas Tilling, and renamed Tilling-Stevens.

Tilling-Stevens consolidated its position with bus operators in the World War I because the petrol electric chassis were not considered suitable by the Army for use in France. However many men were trained to drive in the War on vehicles with conventional gearboxes which led to a decline in popularity of Tilling-Stevens’ system.

Goods vehicles

Tilling-Stevens also produced a goods chassis available with either petrol-electric or conventional petrol engines and built many trucks during the War. After the war, they failed to invest in updating their products and acquired Vulcan Trucks of Southport, Lancashire in 1930 to extend their range (and use Vulcan petrol engines). Production stayed at Maidstone and during the World War II they specialised in searchlight trucks. A Vulcan truck fitted with Perkins diesel engine. On show at Bromyard Steam Rally, England in 2008.

Rootes Group

In 1950 the company was sold to Rootes Group, and complete vehicle production ceased soon afterwards. The plant continued to produce light commercial engines and vehicle bodies, before finally closing in the 1970s, some years after the group had been acquired by Chrysler.


The Tilling-Stevens petrol-electric bus is interesting as an early example of a hybrid vehicle, although without any battery storage. As the petrol engine ran continuously, it was almost certainly less fuel efficient than a competing petrol engine, which may have contributed to its demise. However hybrid petrol-electric cars, such as the Toyota Prius, are now seen as being a partial solution towards cutting carbon dioxide emissions and reducing the risks of damaging global warming.

See also


External links

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Tilling-Stevens. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia