History of municipal vehicles

19th century and early 20th century

Street cleaning, garbage collection, winter service, green care- all these and many other tasks are now carried out with the help of municipal vehicles. When you think of municipal vehicles, the first thing that naturally comes to mind are the motorized commercial vehicles that are common today. Classic with diesel, but now increasingly also as an electric municipal vehicle with environmentally friendly electric drive.

Of course, all of these tasks existed before the invention of the (combustion) engine. We have compiled some examples here in our little slide show. A power of 1 hp was often used as the drive, as the devices were pulled by a horse. Whether it’s a sweeper, mower, garbage disposal or snow plow.

Horse-drawn Snow Plow
Garbage Disposal with 1 HP
Road Sweeper "Patent Teich"

With the industrial revolution “movement” came in the development of municipal vehicles. For example, as early as 1868 in the USA, a patent was filed for a self-propelled steam engine-powered sweeper for cleaning railroad tracks.

In 1895, Carl Benz designed the first bus with a combustion engine that was used in municipal bus transport.

But even electric vehicles had a boom back then before they had to give way to combustion engines for decades. In 1899 Ferdinand Porsche developed the Lohner-Porsche electric vehicle. A utility vehicle powered by 2 2.5 HP wheel hub motors.

In the 1920s, the electrically powered vehicles then gave way to the 6-cylinder combustion engines.

Lohner Porsche Elektromobil
Benz-Gaggenau truck model series 3C
First bus by Daimler

2nd Half of the 20th Century.

After the World War II, Albert Friedrich developed the „Universal-Motor-Gerät“ (German for “Universal Motor Device”) for short “Unimog” for Daimler AG. This has been used as an all-wheel drive implement carrier for many municipal tasks since 1949. But it is also used as a small truck, in forestry and in the military. The Unimog was successfully produced in various series. When the turnover figures fell in half at the end of the 1980s, the entire Unimog range was revised. In spring 2000 the product range was revised again. All series, with the exception of the heavy series, were replaced by the new 405 series implement carrier Unimog.

Original Unimog
Unimog built in 1988
Unimog Implement Carrier

Gebr. Holder GmbH, which was founded in 1888 and later was doing business as Max Holder GmbH, helped shape the municipal vehicle market with its small tractors, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s. After an eventful history and a bankruptcy, Alfred Kärcher SE & Co. KG finally took over the company shares in 2019, thereby strengthening its own municipal machine division.

Another manufacturer of this time is the Gutbrod company, founded in 1926, which initially specialized in motorcycles. In the 1960s to 1980s, however, municipal machines were increasingly added.

Gutbrod was dissolved in 1996 through the takeover by “Modern Tool and Die Company”.

Holder Tractor 1965
Holder Tractor 1973
Gutbrod Street Sweeper
Gutbrod Winter Service

Two companies that are still active in the industry today are Hako and Ladog.

The legendary HAKOtrac was a four-wheel small tractor that was produced from 1961 and was a cheap alternative for part-time farmers. The list price in 1962 was DM 3,140.00. With extensions, it could also be used for municipal tasks, especially where space was limited.

From 1948 Ladog built three-wheel tractors with an output of 4 HP. In 1960 the first four-wheel vehicle with 14 HP and rear-wheel drive was added. In 1967 the first municipal vehicle with a width of 1.25 m was brought onto the market.

LADOG Winter Service 1984

In 2008 the JungoJet 3500 revolutionized the market. Due to its maximum weight of 3.5 t despite its high performance, it was possible for the first time in Germany to clean sidewalks without a special permit with a municipal machine of this performance class. But it also offered another decisive advantage: the quick-change system meant that the machine could be converted from a sweeper to an all-wheel drive winter service vehicle within 15 minutes, or converted for mowing, watering or wet cleaning work.

JungoJet 3500 - Winter Service
JungoJet 3500 - Street Sweeper