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DAF Trucks NV is a reputed Dutch truck manufacturer with a nonagenarian history. Being a division of Paccar, the company has succeeded to develop and maintain its identity through decades. Its lorries are highly appreciated as in the domestic market, so in Europe, Asia, and South America. DAF’s basic plant and other operations are located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, although there are powerful facilities in other countries (Belgium, UK, Brazil) with more than 8.000 workforce.
DAF was established in 1928 by Hubert van Doorne as a tiny workshop on the premises of a brewery. Right from the beginning Van Doorne’s Aanhangwagen Fabriek practiced the conversion of 4x2 Ford trucks into 6x4 drive gear by means of Trado conversions. After the WWII the company put on the right side of the history and proceeded with the manufacture of proprietary lorries, buses and trailers. Its first significant achievement was DAF A30 truck.
The 1954 was a year of a breakthrough; van Doorne settled down to the elaboration of drafts to be used in a car belt drive system. The AutoRAI was the first four-seater vehicle to integrate a belt drive. This innovation gave impulse to the development of the DAF 600 – the first automobile furnished with a continuously variable transmission. In the following years the brand released four other cars with Variomatic gearbox system.
In 1975 DAF negotiated its passenger cars arm to Volvo Cars from Sweden, having focused on the design of lorries. A decade later it entered into a merger with Rover’s Group subsidiary Leyland Trucks, creating the Leyland DAF division in the UK. In early 1990s the company was beaten by financial difficulties which triggered bankruptcy. Thus, the company was renamed DAF Trucks.
In 1996 the brand passed into possession to Paccar. The latter acquired not only its Dutch operations but also Leyland Trucks from the UK. As a consequence, DAF reunited with Leyland. The 2012 was marked by the opening of a new mighty overseas plant in Ponta Grossa, Brazil; its facilities have become the cornerstone of the mass production and marketing in South America.
Extinct Passenger Cars
DAF’s first passenger vehicle, the 600 model, made a splash due to the innovations which had been implemented in it. The car boasted a unitary steel body, an independent suspension, a Variomatic transmission, a transverse leaf spring, an air-cooled two-cylinder engine, and a rear-wheel drive. The drive belts acted as a limited-slip differential, taking up the speed difference in the corners.
To continue, in the 1960s the manufacturer introduced a line of luxury cars, called Daffodil. It comprised three different models: 30, 31 and 32. Later on, it was replenished with DAF 44 that featured a new design as well as layout. DAF 55 came equipped with a water-cooled four-cylinder engine, similar to Renault 8 Cleon one; it also received a longer radiator, larger taillights and refined interior, whereas a leaf spring front suspension was substituted by MacPherson struts with antiroll bar. The model’s successor, DAF 66, boasted all new rear-axle design and dual drive belts.
Alongside released vehicles, DAF was successful in the design of prototypes. For example, Shellette concept car regenerated as a real Fiat 850, while DAF 77 turned into Volvo 343. The latter became a best-seller with more than 1.3 million units sold.
Thriving Truck Business
It was in 1949 that DAF showcased its first truck – A30. It has been upgraded several times throughout production years. In the 1970s the team launched F1600/F2000 line, differentiated by the integration of F218 tilting cab. F241 with a three-wiper windscreen was implemented within DAF 2800 model range. Moreover, the company pioneered with the introduction of intercooled turbocharged diesel engines.
In 1987 DAF sparkled with 95 series truck that instantly received acclaim and the title ‘Truck of the Year’. It featured an updated version of ATI engine, a new cab, designed in cooperation with Enasa, and 16-speed ZF transmission. In addition, the vehicle teased innovative soundproofing technologies - i.e. the availability of a telescopic gear linkage – which made it quieter than a lot of luxury saloon models. In 1992 the team unveiled a line of medium and heavy-duty trucks (65, 75, 85 models) with a wedge-shaped cab.
DAF Trucks NV currently occupies a dominant position in the European truck industry. In 2014 its market share made up 13.8% in the heavyweight segment & 8.8% - in the lightweight segment.
All new lorries are manufactured with the help of Paccar Production System. It presupposed the usage of robotechnics on every step of production (cab, chassis, axle parts welding and cutting). Nonetheless, robots would be bootless without the mastery of employees who control their work.