Lucas Automotive

The company based in King Street, Birmingham founded by Joseph Lucas and his son Harry in 1872 at first made general pressed metal merchandise including lamps for ships and coaches, later moving into oil and acetylene lamps for bicycles. In 1902, what was now Joseph Lucas Ltd started making automotive electrical components such as magnetos, alternators, windscreen wipers, horns, lighting, wiring and starter motors. The company started its main growth in 1914 with a contract to supply the Morris Motor Company with electrical equipment. During the First World War Lucas made shells and fuses as well as electrical equipment for military vehicles. After the war they expanded rapidly but not only by gaining new business – in 1926 they gained an exclusive contract with Austin – but also by swallowing up most of their British rivals.
Around 1930, Lucas and Smiths established a trading agreement to avoid competition in each others markets.
Lucas marketed its early headlights under the brand name “King of the Road”. In the 1960s in the United States the legendary unreliability of Lucas electrics fitted to imported British cars such as MGs, Triumphs, Jaguars and Rovers led to the coining of the nickname – “Lord Lucas – Prince of Darkness”. As such Lucas is the butt of many jokes, but the unreliability of Lucas electrics is overstated. The fact that many cars employing Lucas electrics are still on the road 30, 40, or more years after manufacture is proof of their durability. It is often said that the biggest problem that Lucas electrics suffer is that of previous “repairs” and “improvements” by unskilled car owners.
In the UK, Lucas had a substantial part of the market with its major competitor being AC-Delco (part of General Motors) from the late 1950s
Lucas Industries plc was a famous manufacturer of components for the motor industry and aerospace industry. It was based in Birmingham, England, and quoted on the London Stock Exchange.
Founded by Joseph Lucas, the company was best known for automotive electrical components such as alternators, windscreen wiper motors, starter motors etc.
Lucas Industries plc also owned the Girling, CAV diesel (from a pre-war agreement with Bosch), Simms, Crosland companies and acquired the Varity Corporation in 1996. After a series of disposals, the remains of Lucas merged in 1996 with the U.S. company Varity to become LucasVarity plc who were in 1999 taken over by the US automotive supplier TRW Inc.

Joseph Lucas was established as a manufacturer of ship lamps

Lucas started to supply Europe’s infant automotive industry

The Lucas business became a registered company –
Joseph Lucas Ltd was born

The ‘Cleveland Cap Screw Company’ was established:
a manufacturer of cap screws for automotive engine valves

Joseph Lucas Died aged 68. His Son Harry took over the Company and the business flourished with new innovations, new properties and the purchase of new companies

The Cleveland Cap Screw Company and the Thompson Electric Welding Company were acquired by entrepreneur Alexander Winton

The company was renamed as ‘Steel Products’ and became the nations leading valve manufacturer for cars and planes, and steering components for cars

Steel Products introduced the revolutionary ‘Thompson Silcrome Valve’, which offered 100 times the life of competitor valves

– 1923
Steel Products entered the replacement parts market with the creation of ‘Thompson Products’

Steel Products introduced the revolutionary ‘Thompson Silcrome Valve’, which offered 100 times the life of competitor valves

– 1927
In North America, Kelsey Wheel Company began supplying wooden wheels for Henry Ford’s Model T from its Detroit, Michigan, plant. In 1927 it merged with the Hayes wheel company to form Kelsey-Hayes wheel company

Kelsey Hayes enters the braking business, supplying mechanical brakes to Ford. Other customers included
Cadillac, Hudson and Studebaker

– 1943
Lucas acquired Girling, allowing the company to expand into brakes, braking systems and clutch actuation equipment

– 1952
Lucas introduced the industry’s first disc brakes

– 1958
TRW became a major player in the aerospace and aircraft industries, primarily through Thompson Products Inc.’s merger with the Ramo-Wooldridge
Corporation in California. This merger resulted in the Thompson – Ramo- Wooldridge Corporation – the genesis of the name TRW
Kelsey Hayes develops the speed sensor later used in cruise control and anti lock braking systems (ABS)

– 1959
Kelsey Hayes develops the speed sensor later used in cruise control and anti lock braking systems (ABS)

– 1960
The first Lucas factory was built in Koblenz, Germany, to produce brakes for Girling. The company also acquired Byrce Berger this year

– 1965
Kelsey Hayes introduces the first disc braking system in North America

– 1967
TRW developed rack and pinion steering (and remains the World leader today)

TRW acquired Ehrenreich and Cie., a German producer of steering systems which strengthened TRW’s position in Germany. The same year, TRW introduced the electronically controlled anti-lock braking system for the Lincoln Mark IV

– 1972
TRW acquired German manufacturer Repa, introducing it to the rising business of occupant restraint systems

– 1974
Lucas Industries was established. This year was a significant milestone for the Lucas image – the renowned Lucas flash logo replaced the ‘King of
the Road’ Lion, the Girling ‘G’ and the CAV logo, and was introduced as a starting point to consolidate the three brand names

– 1975
Lucas Industries introduced the Colette caliper – the best known component of its kind

– 1987
Kelsey Hayes launches two wheel ABS system

– 1989
TRW delivered the first complete frontal air bag and sensor system

– 1991
TRW entered into a global agreement with Federal Mogul for a 10 year period, allowing them to
distribute TRW branded products in the aftermarket
Lucas Aftermarket Operations (LAO) was formed, and the aftermarket business became one single entity.
Lucas was now the sole name for all products in its portfolio.

– 1996
Lucas merged with the Varity Corporation to form Lucas Varity PLC

– 1999
TRW Inc acquired Lucas Varity.
TRW sold its diesel business to Delphi with the rights to use the Lucas brand name for a five year period.

– 2001
TRW sold its aerospace business to Goodrich and Northrop Grumman

– 2002
The ten year agreement with Federal Mogul ends and TRW regains the aftermarket rights to the TRW brand.
TRW Automotive Aftermarket launches a steering and suspension aftermarket programme across Europe.
TRW launches the industry’s first electric park brake system on the Audi A8.
TRW’s Adaptive Cruise Control is launched on the Volkswagen Phaeton.

– 2004
TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (NYSE:TRW) became a public company through an Initial Public Offering (IPO)
of common stock. TRW Automotive Aftermarket launches TRW Auto Service, Id and Exponentia.

– 2005
TRW regained the rights to sell diesel products under the Lucas name. TRW purchased Dalphimetal,
manufacturer of airbags and steering wheels.