For seasoned drivers, the learning curve is less about the complexity of learning new tasks and more about learning to work with the truck and powertrain to achieve a smoother ride and to reduce fatigue.
“In addition to spec’ing the right powertrain, driver training is critical to achieve optimal performance,” said Brian Daniels, manager for Detroit powertrain and component product marketing. “Specifically related to downspeeding of engines, seasoned drivers recognize the need to grasp the ‘fuel economy sweet spot.’ It is now much lower than with previous technology, and the transmission manages the entire powertrain for efficiency.”
Many of the benefits of a downsped powertrain are dependent on the driver operating the system as it is intended to work. In most cases, this means putting the AMT in drive and allowing the powertrain to do the work.
“Part of this dependency is the need for the driver to increase her time in cruise control,” Daniels clarified. “Generally, the more a driver operates in cruise control, the more fuel efficient they will be.”
This could mean that when a seasoned driver gets behind the wheel of an automated transmission for the first time, the decisions the transmission makes might come as a surprise. It’s important that they learn to trust the technology.
“Oftentimes this is related to drivers coming out of older technologies in which the engine torque and fuel curves were significantly different. Now, the system is making shift decisions at much lower RPM points,” said Shane Groner, director of Roadranger field marketing, noting that automated transmission are intuitive and the learning curve is small. “One area that sometimes takes some training is activation of PTO devices as the automated systems may require different steps to activate the device than had previously been required.”