Perkins Engines Company Limited, a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., is a diesel engine manufacturer for several markets including Agricultural, Construction, Material Handling, Power Generation and Industrial. Established in Peterborough, United Kingdom, in 1932, over the years Perkins has continued to grow its engine range and produce thousands of different engine specifications. This, coupled with a high volume of annual sales, means that nearly 18 million pieces of equipment worldwide have now run, or are running with Perkins power.
F. Perkins Ltd, Engineers was formed on 7 June 1932 in Peterborough by Frank Perkins and Charles Chapman. Before Perkins and Chapman, the diesel engine was a heavy and slow revving workhorse, lacking performance. Chapman's concept was the high-speed diesel - a motor that could challenge gasoline as the primary motive power. The world's first high-speed diesel engine was Perkins' four-cylinder Vixen, which made its debut in 1932, and in October 1935 Perkins became the first company to hold 6 world diesel speed records for a variety of distances set at the Brooklands race track in Surrey. Sales were strong and by the time of World War II the company made two series of engines, P4 and P6. After the war, the company went public, and established a number of licensees for local manufacturing and sale.
The company was sold to Massey-Ferguson Ltd. in 1959 and later became part of LucasVarity plc; development continued and Perkins updated its engines to meet stricter emissions rules, while developing new series for power generation and forklift trucks.
A supplier to Caterpillar since 1970s; Perkins was acquired by Caterpillar in 1997, creating what they claimed was the world's largest diesel engine manufacturer. With an ever-expanding global footprint Perkins now has manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, China and a joint venture with Ishikawajima-Shibaura-Machinery company in Japan.