Daimler Truck North America is the leading producer of Class 6-8 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in North America. Its operations are spread across the continent, but the company’s headquarters and key research and development functions are located in Oregon, where it also conducts reliability and durability testing for all of its models.
Such testing takes place at the company’s High Desert Proving Grounds in Madras. The proving grounds occupy 87 acres located about 120 miles southeast of the company’s Portland headquarters. Its 3.5-mile test track allows for the simulation of a vehicle’s full life cycle in as few as six months. Additionally, the route from Daimler Truck’s Portland facilities to the proving grounds includes rural roads, interstate highway and mountainous terrain, allowing the company to test vehicles in real-world conditions.
The Madras facility also allows Daimler Truck to test new technology away from busy roads and highways. This seclusion has been critical to the company’s testing of autonomous trucks, which it hopes to produce at scale by the end of the decade.
The High Desert Proving Grounds opened in 2017 following two years of development and an investment of almost $19 million. The facility features a 32,000-square-foot office building that can house as many as 40 employees and more than a dozen service bays for technicians to work on and inspect Daimler Truck’s fleet of durability test vehicles.
Daimler Truck North America’s brands include Freightliner Trucks, Freightliner Custom Chassis, Thomas Built Buses, Detroit components and Western Star Trucks, some of which are manufactured in Portland along with the company’s eCascadia and eM2 electric trucks.