Detroit Diesel Corporation(DDC) is an American diesel engine manufacturer headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, USA and a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, itself a wholly owned subsidiary of the German Daimler AG. The company manufactures heavy-duty engines and chassis components for the on-highway and vocational commercial truck markets. Detroit Diesel has built more than 5 million engines since 1938, more than 1 million of which are still in operation worldwide. Detroit Diesel’s product line includes engines, axles, transmissions, and Virtual Technician.
Detroit engines, transmissions, and axles can be found in several trucks manufactured by Daimler Trucks North America including Freightliner, Western Star, SelecTrucks, Freightliner Custom Chassis and Thomas Built Buses.
Detroit Diesel consists of two divisions. The off-highway division, which is owned by Tognum, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Engine Holding GmbH, a joint venture of Daimler AG and Rolls-Royce Group plc. The on-highway division is owned by Daimler AG.
Detroit Diesel Corporation timeline
April 1938: General Motors formed the GM Diesel Division, the origin of today’s Detroit Diesel Corporation. The first model was the Series 71 two-cycle engine.
World War II: Tanks, landing craft, road building equipment and standby generators needed compact, lightweight, two-cycle engines. By 1943, GM Diesel employed 4,300 people, more than 1,400 of them women. Together, these employees produced 57,892 engines in 1943 alone. GM Diesel launches Series 110 engines used in construction equipment, rail cars, and as a power generator.
1950s: Wide use of GM’s diesel engines in thousands of military applications gave GM Diesel unprecedented recognition and speeded their acceptance in commercial applications. Recognizing the growing opportunity of the on-highway truck market, the company developed heavy-duty engines to meet these commercial needs and began selling to customers other than GM in 1955. GM Diesel also began to focus on developing a worldwide distribution network of independent, authorized distributors and dealers to provide parts and service. In 1957, GM Diesel introduced the Series 53 engine, and put the Series 71 engine into use for both on-highway and off-road use. All engines within a Series were designed so that a vast majority of the parts were interchangeable. This made it easy to produce many models of various horsepower by simply adding cylinders.
1960s: In 1965, GM Diesel became Detroit Diesel Engine Division. That same year, the company introduced the Series 149 engine; developed for use in workboats, push boats, as well as in the 100 ton-plus mining trucks used out West. In 1970, General Motors consolidated the company with the closely allied transmission and gas turbine businesses of the Allison Division, forming the Detroit Allison Division. For the next 20 years, the Detroit Allison Division grew, tripling its sales during the 1960s alone.
1970s and 1980s: The Series 92 engine was introduced in 1974; called the Fuel Squeezers, the 6V-92TT engine achieved fuel savings of 10 to 20% over previous models of comparable horsepower. During the energy crisis, it became clear that the turbine engine couldn’t compete with the diesel engine for fuel efficiency. In 1980, Detroit Allison produced its first four-cycle engine. A few years later in the early 1980s diesel engine production split off as Detroit Allison Division while turbine engines remained as Allison Division.
1987: In 1987 the Series 60® — the four-cycle heavy-duty engine that would become the signature of the company — was introduced as the first production engine to have integrated electronic controls as a standard feature. The Series 60 was developed to meet the demand for cleaner and more fuel-efficient heavy-duty engines, and quickly became the most popular heavy-duty diesel engine in the North American Class 8 truck market.
1988: On January 1, 1988, a joint venture between Penske Corporation and General Motors created Detroit Diesel Corporation, the successor to the heavy-duty diesel engine business of the Detroit Allison Division. The deal gave Penske a 60% majority ownership in the new venture and infused new leadership through its CEO, former racecar driver Roger Penske. Penske’s unique brand of leadership helped direct the company in the face of a highly competitive marketplace where the price index had been stagnant for more than four years.
1993: By October 1993, Detroit Diesel Corporation had grown its on-highway heavy-duty market share to 33% from 3% only a few years earlier. The company also completed a successful initial public offering of common stock, becoming a publicly traded company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock symbol “DDC.” That same year, Detroit Diesel launched the Series 50, the first Detroit Diesel natural gas engine. By 1999, Detroit Diesel had built its 4 millionth engine.
2000: By 2000, Detroit Diesel Corporation was a dynamic and well-respected company within both the trucking industry and the investment community. In October 2000, DaimlerChrysler completed a tender offer for all outstanding shares of Detroit Diesel Corporation, including the 48.6% interest owned by Penske Corporation.
2005: Detroit Diesel Corporation invested $350 million to refurbish and retool its plant for future business.
2006: MTU Friedrichshafen, including the off-highway part of Detroit Diesel in the USA, was acquired by the EQT investment group. A new company, Tognum GmbH, was formed as a holding company for the brands. The on-highway division of Detroit Diesel was retained by DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler AG) as part of Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). Both companies use the 'Detroit Diesel' name and corporate logo.
2007: Detroit Diesel Corporation launches its DD engine platform with the DD15 Engine.
2008: Detroit Diesel Corporation was recognized for its Brownfield Redevelopment efforts, and also won the national EPA Phoenix Award for its plant.
2009: The 1 millionth Series 60 engine was sold.
2010: An additional $190 million investment allowed Detroit Diesel Corporation to launch Blue Tec emissions technology and the final engine of its new engines family: the Detroit DD platform of engines that includes the DD13, DD15, DD15TC, and DD16 engines.
2010: Detroit began production of EPA 2010 certified engines.
2011: Detroit Diesel Corporation is named one of the two 2011 Michigan Green Leaders in the Big Business category by the Detroit Free Press. DDC changes brand name from Detroit Diesel to Detroit.
2012: 100,000th DD platform engine leaves the factory floor, while axles, Virtual Technician, DT12 automated manual transmission and Detroit Genuine Parts are introduced.