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The company was called the Pittsburgh Motor Vehicle Company when started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1897 by brothers Louis and John Clark to produce passenger cars Pittsburger. But it became the Autocar Company in 1899 when it moved to Ardmore, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia. This company had been making small buses with units under the driver's seat and the frame before started making trucks. The first Autocar truck unveiled in 1907. In 1911 the company ceased production of passenger cars and concentrated about trucks production. During the First World War, Autocar trucks were produced in Canada and the UK.
In 1919, Autocar began production of trucks with a capacity from 2 to 5 tons and electric trucks with a capacity from 1 to 3 tons. By the mid 20's the lineup included 20 models with capacity from 500 kg to 5 t. By this time Autocar produced all the parts for their trucks on own factories. The first fame came to Autocar in the early 30's with the development of compact all-metal cabin installed over the engine with curved front panel. In 1933 it was installed on U-series trucks. This cabin was so successful that its style, form and design used immediately by White, Mack and GMC companies. In 1935, Autocar started the first experiments with diesel engines Waukesha.
In 1938 the company offered 28 models with GVW of 6,0-22,5 tons. Despite the extensive program, the total production for the army was very small, so at the end of the war the situation began deteriorating. In 1946 it offered a more modest range of standardized 2- and 3-axle vehicles. In 50s Autocar created several versions of basic chassis and developed a new more comfortable cabin. In 1953 after the bad financial situation Autocar came under the control of White. Production was transferred to Ikston, Pennsylvania. The company started producing chassis and tractors for the construction, forests, coal and oil industries.
In 1980, to reduce production costs, making of the whole range of Autocar moved to White plant in Ogden, where Western Star trucks were being built. The following year, Swedish company Volvo became new owner of White company. With the formation in 1988 of Volvo-GM Heavy Truck Corporation under the trademark White-GMC, Autocar department continued to produce the same chassis, which were combined in "ACL" range. If all products were branded as White-GMC, so Autocar trucks were named Autocar-White-GMC. From July 1995 White-GMC brand was replaced by Volvo logo.
Autocar remained a part of Volvo until 2000, when the marque was withdrawn from the market. After Volvo acquired the North American operations of Renault Trucks in 2001, as the merged company would have an excess/uncompetitive share of the refuse truck market sector, Volvo agreed to sell select vehicle designs for the Xpeditor low cab forward heavy duty product, intellectual properties and the Autocar Company brand rights to Highland Park, Illinois based Grand Vehicle Works Holdings, LLC. Under Autocar brand this company produces refuse and special trucks.