It was 75 years ago that DAF started to manufacture trucks. The company had been in existence before this but concentrated on manufacturing trailers. As is usual at these times, truck manufacturers like to delve into the archives and produce a potted history of the company and plans for the future. As UK truck sales market leader, we felt it worthwhile sharing the story provided by DAF with the Truck Pages users. So, settle down and let’s take a look back in time.

Early History

New Truck old line
As UK truck sales market leader, we felt it worthwhile sharing the story provided by DAF with the Truck Pages users

The foundations for DAF were lain in 1928. In the first years, the company was known in Eindhoven as ‘Van Doorne’s Machine Factory’. When Hub and Wim introduced trailers to the market in the early 1930s, the first contours of DAF as we know it started to become visible. Unlike other vehicles on the market, the chassis were not rivetted but welded, making them a lot lighter than usual, and they were an enormous success. The machine factory switched its focus and became Van Doorne’s Aanhangwagenfabriek or DAF for short.

Wim en Hub van Doorne
In the first years, the company was known in Eindhoven as ‘Van Doorne’s Machine Factory’.

The first truck

DAF began to shift quickly through the gears when the demand for transport grew explosively during the rebuilding of Europe. A production line for trailers and semi-trailers was set up and definite plans were made for the construction of a truck factory.

DAF A30
In 1949, the A30 was launched. A 3-tonne truck aimed primarily at the domestic market. The grill featured seven characteristic chrome stripes.

Part of the scenery

A few months later, the first model was rolled out of the factory and it was quickly followed by the A50 (5-tonne) and the A60 (6-tonne) for heavy-duty work. A delivery truck – the 1-tonne A10 – first saw the light of day in 1950, with a spin-off pick-up model – the A107 ¬– following later. The number of models increased rapidly, including vehicles with a special chassis for tipper and garbage trucks and a series of military vehicles. Within a short space of time, DAF had developed into a truck brand that would become an unmistakable part of the scenery.

At the time, all of the trucks were rolled off the line as a chassis with engine and grill. The building of cabs was still in the hands of body builders. This all changed in 1953 when DAF began to manufacture its own cabs. In 1955, the factory celebrated the production of its 10,000th chassis – an occasion that was made extra special thanks to an order from the Dutch Army for 3,600 vehicles. Shortly afterwards, DAF also began developing and building its own (diesel) engines. DAF would become the first to add a turbo compressor to its trucks’ power source for extra horsepower and greater efficiency.

International transport

In 1957, DAF presented the DO, a truck with a characteristic design and a 10-tonne rear axle developed specially for this series. It made the DO particularly suitable for heavy and international transport, which was gradually becoming more popular. The second generation of the DO even featured a rudimentary bed – a novelty at the time.

At the start of the 60s, the Dutch truck builder surprised everyone again, this time with the DAF 2600, a truck that was aimed even more directly at international transport than the DO. The cab was revolutionary. Its square shape maximised the living space – and comfort – for the driver, who was sometimes away from home for weeks at a time. The cab had room for a bed and even a bunkbed if required. The large windows provided plenty of light and an unparalleled all-round view, which improved safety. The 2600 series became known as ‘the mother of international transport’.

Trendsetter

In 1970, DAF launched the F1600 – F2200 series. The vehicles featured a tilt cab, making DAF one of the first to introduce it. The advantages of the tilt cab were huge. It made it easier for mechanics to carry out maintenance, and better and faster too, and offered the driver a much quieter work space because the engine was encased in the cab.

The revolutionary 2600 made way in 1973 for the completely new 2800 (and later the 3300 and 3600). The 2800 had not one but two beds and, thanks to the incredible comfort, it became the number one truck for long distances. DAF was also the first manufacturer to launch the turbo intercooler for more torque, more power and lower fuel consumption.

DAF 2800 1973
The 2800 had not one but two beds and it became the number one truck for long distances

Super SpaceCab

In the 1980s, DAF gave long distance transport and heavy transport a new impulse with the introduction of the DAF 95, which could also be fitted with an extra high roof for unrivalled driver comfort: the SpaceCab. It was even followed by a Super SpaceCab, the ultimate in space and luxury. For regional and national transport, DAF introduced the DAF 65/75/85.

Number one in sustainability

In the following years, this series of vehicles – and their successors, the CF and XF – made a name for themselves in Europe and also became increasingly popular further afield. The same applied to the new LF series, which was launched around the turn of the century and was aimed at regional and local distribution. In 2010, DAF was the first to introduce a hybrid truck to the market. The LF Hybrid reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 per cent, thanks to the use of an electric motor in urban areas. The LF Hybrid exemplified DAF’s number one position with regard to making road transport more sustainable, a position that was further underlined by the introduction in 2018 of the DAF CF Electric, the first fully electric truck to be built by a European manufacturer.

New Generation DAF

During these years, the European Union had been drawing up new regulations for the weights and dimensions of trucks. When these came into force at the end of 2020, DAF was the first truck manufacturer to be ready to work with them. This made the New Generation DAF trucks that were launched in 2021 as revolutionary as the famous DO, 2600, 2800 and XF had been in their time.

The regulations offer truck manufacturers the opportunity to make their cabs slightly longer, provided the extra length is to the benefit of the environment, the safety of the vehicle and the man or woman behind the wheel. The New Generation DAF trucks offer considerably more space to the driver, are significantly more efficient, thanks to their streamlined design, and with their extremely low windscreen belt lines and intelligent camera systems are built to maximise safety on the road. DAF’s XF, XG and XG+ for heavy-duty work and long distance transport and the XD series (for national and regional distribution) won the ‘International Truck of the Year Award’ twice in a row.

The XD and XF are also available with a fully electric powertrain and have a range of up to 500 emission-free kilometres on a single charge. The XD and XF Electric are built in the Electric Truck Assembly Line, a completely new production line that went into operation in 2023 at the DAF factory in Eindhoven. DAF has also introduced a fully electric version for urban distribution – the New Generation DAF XB – which is being manufactured by Leyland Trucks in Great Britain.

Ready for the future

DAF is fully prepared for the future. Not only thanks to its new generation of vehicles but also because the company continues to work hard on innovative transport solutions. For instance, DAF is developing zero-emission hydrogen engines that emit nothing but water vapor. At the same time, DAF’s parent company, PACCAR, is conducting tests with ultra-clean fuel cell technology and forging ahead with the development of electric powertrains.

DAF trucks are sold all over the world. From Africa to Oceania. From South America, where DAF has its own factory in Brazil, to Asia. And, of course, in Europe, where a record total of 69,800 trucks were built last year. DAF’s customers rely not only on the dependability of its trucks but also on the extensive portfolio of supporting services – from its international recovery service, first-class parts supply and financial services to fast chargers for electric trucks and even the installation of self-supporting local energy networks. There is a lot more to transport efficiency than high-tech trucks alone.

Daf Grille designs
DAF has developed into a truck brand that would become an unmistakable part of the scenery

Genuine DAFs

“Hub and Wim van Doorne would hardly believe their eyes if they could see the products in 2024,” says Harald Seidel, President of DAF Trucks. “At the same time, they would be able to confirm with no shortage of satisfaction that our trucks are genuine DAFs: innovative, high-quality and developed to provide maximum efficiency, maximum driver comfort and unparalleled safety. They would be very proud. Just as proud as I am of our past, our present and our plans for the future.”