Hughes has been Australia’s leading luxury ground transport provider since 1904.

Hughes is Australia’s original chauffeur service, with a rich history stretching back to the start of the 20th century. As one of the country’s oldest companies, our history is intertwined with the history of Australia itself—a parallel blossoming of country and company, using technological innovation to ensure quality, trust, and success.

Here is our story from the very beginning to the present day.

History of Hughes

Karl Benz creates the first true automobile

To fulfil his lifelong passion of creating a “horseless carriage,” German engine designer Karl Benz builds the first practical automobile—the Benz Patent Motorwagen—powered by a gasoline engine.

Benz’s 6hp engine was used by Australian Harley Tarrant in his first automobile, completed in 1901 in a small Melbourne workshop.

The Benz Patent Motorwagen. Image from Wikimedia

Hughes Limousines is established

A few years after the unification of Australia into a commonwealth, Hughes Limousines is created to provide luxury chauffeured transportation for the most discerning of Australians —the first Australian company to do so.

The company started operating in Melbourne, and now has offices in every major Australian city and region.

Australia’s first car—the Tarrant Automobile outside a factory in South Melbourne. Used by Hughes Limousines

First Australian driving license issued

South Australia passed the Motor Traffic Regulation Act in 1904, and in 1906, issues its first license to Dr William Arthur Hargreaves in Adelaide. Hargreaves has a keen interest in vehicles and fuel sources, and would eventually power his own vehicle using a mixture of molasses and petrol.

As more states introduced mandatory licenses, all Hughes chauffeurs took their tests and obtained their licenses.

Qantas is established

Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh form the world’s third airline—Qantas—and provide air routes throughout Queensland. Their first plane is the Avro 504K, a small biplane with a 100hp engine.

As Qantas opens up new routes to the Northern Territory, Singapore and Sydney, air travellers need a way to get to and from Airports and Hughes quickly becomes the preferred option around Australia

The Avro 504K. Image from TSRL, Wikipedia

Holden creates its first mass-produced Australian car

Holden was founded back in 1856, and for the first 92 years of its operation, produced saddles and vehicle body shells. It wasn’t until 1948 that it created its first full vehicle—The Holden 48-215. The 48-215 was marketed as the “Holden” but was unofficially known as the FX. Other names that were considered were “Austral”, “Melba”, “Boomerang”, “Emu” and “Canbra.”

The Holden was a commercial success and had a waiting list of over a year. The car was promptly added to the Hughes fleet.

Image from National Museum Australia

Car air-conditioning is introduced, followed by seatbelts

With air-conditioning technology becoming more efficient and affordable, it isn’t long before it is installed into cars. The first car to offer factory-installed air conditioning is the Packard 180, and by 1969, more than half of all new cars are equipped with A/C.

In 1958, the three-point seat belt is invented by Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin, and remains the seat belt of choice today.

With air conditioning and self-belts becoming the norm, Hughes is able to offer a more comfortable and safer environment for its customers.

Image from Automobile Magazine

Hughes is purchased by Equity Transport Group

Transportation company Equity Transport Group purchases Hughes Limousines to broaden its reach, allowing it to offer a range of transport options Australia-wide.

Car Australia established

Car Australia is founded with a view to offer reliable and affordable transportation across Australia, built on the foundation of cutting-edge technology, talented operational staff, and exceptional chauffeurs.

Car Australia is Equity Transport Group’s affordable alternative to Hughes Limousines, and cements the company’s position as Australia’s leading transportation provider.

First hybrid car is invented

With an eye on sustainability, Toyota develops the world’s first popular hybrid electric vehicle—the Prius—kickstarting a hybrid industry that has seen over 17 million vehicles sold since its inception.

Hughes remains steadfast in its pursuit of balancing client comfort with environmental consciousness, and has since then implemented a number of environmentally-friendly practices, which can be viewed here.

Image from Mr.Jirapat

Hughes starts development of the TransElite operating system

Hughes starts developing its TransElite operating system—a central place to manage its bookings, dispatches, reports, and accounts. The system helped to integrate multiple parts of Hughes’s business into one system, drastically improving its efficiency and encouraging growth.

Hughes releases its online booking portal

Hughes releases an online booking portal which allows its customers to book and manage transport, providing them with greater flexibility for vehicle bookings.

Hughes introduces GPS tracking

Hughes implements GPS tracking for every journey, giving customers greater control by letting them monitor and track their vehicles.

Hughes commences relationship with its first global distribution system

Hughes adds a global distribution system to its suite of technology, allowing data to be passed between travel agencies, airlines, and hotels, making booking management even easier for its customers and staff.

Equity Transport takes over Hughes’ operation in Adelaide, which was previously operated under license

Equity Transport Group takes over Hughes’ Adelaide operation, consolidating the company further and helping to streamline country-wide operations.

Image from Mayfair Hotel

Hughes starts using robotics to enhance customer service delivery and data accuracy

Equity Transport Group utilises the Robotic Process Automation power of UiPath, handling the processing work of 600 bookings each day for Hughes. As we advance with our usage of Robotics, more than 2,000 bookings per day can be automatically entered into our system, allowing our team to assist customers with more detailed requests.