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Autocar, LLC – Building BADASS Vocational Heavy-Duty Trucks for 124 Years

Autocar, LLC – Building BADASS Vocational Heavy-Duty Trucks for 124 Years

Vocational trucks are durable, severe-duty work trucks built to handle a specific job or task ranging from garbage collection to concrete mixing. Vocational trucks include dump trucks, terminal tractors to road maintenance trucks. At Autocar, LLC, they’re Class 7 and Class 8 trucks that are custom-engineered and purpose-built for the specific job of the end-user.

Autocar, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), focuses solely on building the best trucks for the vocational truck market. We are the only 100% American-owned company assembling the entirety of our trucks in the USA. Autocar-brand trucks support critical American infrastructure sectors such as refuse, material handling, concrete and logistics.

Autocar’s Class 8 vocational trucks are built to handle a specific job or task ranging from garbage collection to concrete mixing. From dump trucks to terminal tractors and road maintenance trucks, Autocar’s trucks are custom-engineered and purpose-built for the specific job of the end-user. Autocar-brand trucks support critical American infrastructure sectors.

The Autocar brand is North America’s oldest truck brand, which started in 1897 and marked 124 years of the Autocar name in October 2021. Autocar is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with manufacturing plants in both Birmingham and Hagerstown, Ind.

Let’s have conversation with Tim Thornton, Vice President and General Manager Refuse

Q. What sets Autocar apart from the competition?

Most severe-duty truck manufacturers sell mass-produced, one-size-fits-all stock trucks through a dealership without looking at what body will need to be installed. That’s not how Autocar operates; we don’t have dealer inventory. Instead, Autocar’s Power of One process starts with engineering each truck based on the customer’s specific vocational needs, such as refuse or cement mixing.

Autocar designs and custom engineers its trucks to match its customers’ applications with no premade inventory. Every Autocar truck has the exact powertrain, axle and transmission options the customer selects to do their job the best.

When vocational trucks are mass-produced, they can compromise the design when extreme modifications are needed to mount the body to the chassis, including cutting solid steel, splicing wiring and reconfiguring the chassis outside the control of the OEM. At Autocar, we work closely to design trucks in partnership with the selected body company’s engineers to ensure body components are installed during the building process. Autocar’s Power of One means electrical harnesses are installed together to eliminate the risk of splices, loose connectors or drilled access holes. Body components are then huck-bolted onto the frame rails rather than being welded to avoid displacement and damage to the rails. As a result, the Power of One means Autocar’s trucks have more uptime than most other OEM trucks.

Q. How is Autocar a BADASS truck manufacturer?

Autocar thinks differently than other OEMs, which inspires us to drive the industry forward. The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a trademark to Autocar for BADASS in 2021. Why? Because Autocar builds the biggest, baddest vocational trucks in America, including the BADASS Autocar DC-64D dump truck, which was launched in 2021.

Every Autocar truck comes with the Autocar PROMISE

  • Provide trucks that deliver the best value
  • Provide the best service
  • Provide a complete solution for its customers’ needs
  • Do the work right the first time
  • Act proactively, timely and with simplicity

Autocar strives to have the most uptime possible – as more uptime delivers a lower cost of ownership for the life of the truck – and is the only OEM to provide direct OEM service and unlimited training on how each truck operates.

Q. How important is safety to Autocar?

Autocar strives to make the safest cabover severe-duty trucks in the nation. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data shows Autocar trucks have 20% fewer accidents overall and 40% fewer accidents with injuries than all other manufacturers combined. 

Autocar’scabover severe-duty vocational truck design minimizes driver distractions, and our trucks are engineered with 325 degrees driver visibility and the tightest turning radius. Additionally, our all-steel cabs and wrap-around bumpers are damage-resistant.

In 2021, Autocar also enhanced its safety measures by introducing the nation’s first fleet of refuse cabover engine (COE) trucks installed with Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS) technology in our ACX severe-duty vehicles. Among the safety-enhancing features:

  • Advanced Emergency Braking System
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Stationary Merge Assistant
  • Blind Spot Detection
  • Electronic Stability Controls
  • Rollover Stability Controls

Q. How is Autocar helping the severe-duty trucking industry being greener?

For several years, companies have been exploring how to move away from using diesel-operated vehicles to be more sustainable. Some respond to shareholders who want to see a more ecological operation and others are obligated to meet government mandates for emissions requirements.

Autocar is an industry leader in green innovation. Autocarunderstands the need to be more environmentally friendly and has been building Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-powered refuse trucks longer than any Class 8 truck manufacturer. 

In 2021, Autocar introduced its first electric vehicle (EV) terminal tractor, the E-ACTT, with an electric powertrain designed for severe-duty applications. The E-ACTT is Autocar’s first emissions-free, all-electric terminal tractor and the only OEM terminal tractor with an OEM-developed EV system. A terminal tractor is a truck used to move semi-trailers and cargo containers over short distances, often in distribution centers, intermodal and port terminals.

The E-ACTT is designed to reduce fuel consumption and transition diesel trucks to zero-emission trucks. The E-ACTT terminal tractor’s features include:

  • Leading-edge temperature-controlled lithium-ion battery technology
  • An electric powertrain with telemetry/diagnostic systems designed specifically for severe-duty application in collaboration with Vorza
  • Advanced monitoring systems and innovative telematics in every environmentally friendly unit
  • Custom-built for the customer’s vocational and site-specific needs

Q. What makes Autocar trucks a good choice for vocational applications?

Autocar focuses on its customers’ needs and vocations while manufacturing trucks that are more productive, more reliable and cost less to run. Autocar is committed to its customers’ success – whether that is in refuse and recycling, transportation/logistics, ready mix/concrete, construction or specialty vocations.

Autocar is not just a truck; it’s a whole company. When customers purchase an Autocar truck, they get a lot more than just the best truck. Customers get direct access to the Autocar team. From the expert technicians at Autocar Solutions to unlimited training, hundreds of service locations nationwide and a rapid-response parts team, Autocar will support its customers for the life of their truck.

Meet the leader

Tim Thornton is the vice president and general manager of the refuse vocation at Autocar, LLC. Joining the company in 2020, Tim tackled building a commercialization process and structure for the DC-64 severe-duty conventional truck. With a wealth of experience in bringing new products to market, Tim teamed up with his Autocar colleagues to employ a full training program and craft a lead generation infrastructure system.

Overseeing marketing and sales operations, Tim led a website overhaul and CRM (customer relationship management) implementation. He created a system to tie the lead generation with web analytics and infrastructure to trace to Google ads and track the breadcrumbs back to CRM to determine where the leads started and followed up.

Tim earned a bachelor’s degree at Western Kentucky University and his MBA at Baker University.

“Autocar focuses on its customers’ needs and vocations while manufacturing trucks.”

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