Mercedes claimed they built the first ever truck way back in 1896
Gottlieb Daimler built a truck, based on a converted "horse-drawn goods wagon"
Mercedes-Benz recently released several photographs detailing and showcasing what they claim is "the first truck in the world", which they built, because of course they did. In 1896, Gottlieb Daimler converted a horse-drawn goods wagon into a truck by using an early iteration of a gas-powered engine.
The engine in question was minute by today's standards, with a displacement of 1.06 litres and producing just 4 hp. This 2-cylinder unit, dubbed the 'Phoenix', was linked to the rear axle with a simple belt and the tyres were made from hard iron. The truck could run for "0.4 kg per hp and hour" which translates into a fuel consumption of approximately six litres of petrol per 100 km in modern terms.
The belt drive sent the power to a shaft fitted to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle, and both ends of the axis were fitted with a pinion, which in turn was connected to the wheels. The two-cylinder Phoenix was upgraded in 1896, with a new power output of 6 hp, and the truck weighed around 5 tonnes.
The truck was tested on the road before being displayed in Paris, in Tuileries Park, in association with the Automobile Association of France for a project called "motorised vehicles for city travel". The crazy part is that Daimler himself drove it to Paris from Germany. In 1898. In 1899, Daimler introduced the second generation of Daimler trucks, with a proper bonnet, up to 35 hp and a 1500 kg payload.