Manufacturers are providing new offerings and advanced technologies for medium-duty engines and transmissions

Manufacturers are providing new offerings and advanced technologies for medium-duty engines and transmissions

Medium-duty trucks tackle a variety of tasks, operating in an environment with narrow roads, high congestion and access or parking restrictions, but with the right engine and transmission, fleets can have the confidence that they can meet all of their operating needs.


Medium-duty trucks tackle a variety of tasks, operating in an environment with narrow roads, high congestion and access or parking restrictions, but with the right engine and transmission, fleets can have the confidence that they can meet all of their operating needs. 

When it comes to engines in medium-duty trucks, says Brian Tabel, executive director of marketing at Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, fleets are always looking for fuel efficiency to lower their cost of ownership. “If customers can have a truck that lowers fuel costs, it helps their bottom line,” he says. “That’s why we will continue to see changes, new technology developments and different engine types in the market.”

“Particularly in Class 6 and 7 medium-duty trucks,” relates Kevin Koester, Ford medium-duty truck and Super Duty fleet marketing manager, “we are seeing increased demand for gas engines due to the comparatively low maintenance they require compared to diesels with the latest emissions equipment. That’s one reason gas engines continue to gain acceptance in the market as a viable option for many lower-mileage applications.”

“We are committed to providing the right medium-duty engine technologies with an energy-diverse portfolio to meet the varying needs of customers, whether they want the benefits of diesel, the familiarity of spark-ignition, or the sustainability achievable with natural gas, hybrid or electric vehicles,” says Andrea Best, medium-duty product manager at Cummins. “There’s truly no single solution that meets needs across an entire market, but uptime and reliability are always at the forefront.”

At Hino, data indicates a downsizing of medium-duty engines for regional applications, relates Dominik Beckman, director of marketing and dealer development. “The nine-liter engine is positioned in the sweet spot of this shift,” he says.

Kelly Gedert, director of product marketing at Freightliner Trucks and Detroit Components, says that mid-range engines designed for medium-
duty trucks offer best-in-class fuel efficiency. “These engines also help medium-duty customers achieve maximum uptime,” she says. 

“For example, things like variable cam phasing enable more efficient aftertreatment system performance,” Gedert explains further. “With this technology in particular, at low engine speeds the exhaust timing can adjust to open the valves earlier in the operating cycle and cause warmer exhaust to be pushed in the direction of the aftertreatment system. That allows for more effective DPF regenerations, increasing uptime.”

Transmission changes

There is continued progress toward adopting fuel efficiency features and improvements in overall engine performance, according to Chad Semler, Navistar’s director of product marketing. “We also know that there are regulatory requirements coming in 2021 and 2024,” he says. “While we do not know the full impact of these changes yet, they will likely include transmission changes tied to fuel economy.”

Within the medium-duty market, automatic transmissions continue to dominate as manuals decline in popularity, mostly due to lack of driver experience but also due to improved fuel efficiency and productivity.

At Allison Transmission, for example, fully automatic transmissions feature Continuous Power Technology to support quicker route times and faster work cycles, higher average speeds and the need to operate medium-duty trucks more miles per day. The transmissions are also designed for low maintenance and extended service intervals so they can help improve uptime.

Advanced electronic controls are also part of the Allison portfolio of transmissions for medium-duty trucks. Those technologies, the manufacturer notes, support the engine and vehicle with operational features, and are continuously learning and adapting to road conditions and parameters.

Announced last year, Allison is developing a nine-speed fully automatic model for the medium-duty truck market. The new transmission will enhance fuel savings and help meet the next round of greenhouse gas emissions standards, the manufacturer says. 

The new Allison nine-speed will feature smaller steps for smoother starts and improved acceleration, the company reports. Additionally, a feature of the transmission that pick-up and delivery operations and package delivery fleets in particular may find valuable is an optional integral stop-start system that provides immediate engagement and vehicle hold while the engine is restarted. 

With the Procision seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission for Class 6 and 7 trucks from Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies, the company says that fleets can expect to see eight to 10% better fuel economy compared to a torque converter automatic transmission. Featured as part of the Cummins Integrated Power portfolio, the Procision transmission is paired with the Cummins B6.7 engine for many North American Class 6 and 7 truck and bus manufacturers. 

Key features of the Procision seven-speed include Hill Helper & Hill Descent Control to prevent rollback or roll forward based on grade and vehicle weight and to allow for a controlled launch on hilly terrain. There is also a Creep Mode to enable low-speed parking lot and loading dock driving without applying the accelerator, and Tap Down Shifting so drivers have more control by downshifting on grades or in other conditions without removing their hands from the wheel.

You May Also Like

Medium-Duty at Large: Velocity EV on fleet electrification

Hot off the presses, it’s episode #1 of Medium-Duty at Large! We talk with Velocity EV to see how electric trucks are being put to work.


Can you feel it? Something electrifying in the air … the hairs on the back of your neck shooting up, screaming that something is right behind you. You try to keep moving forward, maybe if you don’t notice it, that means it isn’t there. But you can’t ignore it anymore, you turn around, your heart drops, and out of the darkness—it’s a brand new video series from Fleet Equipment! Break out the champagne but save it for after your shift, we’re getting to work in the inaugural episode of our new series Medium-Duty at Large, our small show about a big industry.

Freightliner M2, SD Plus Series launch updates its medium-duty truck offering

Freightliner introduced the new Plus Series–enhanced versions of its M2 and SD models, including the M2 106 Plus, M2 112 Plus, 108SD Plus, and 114SD Plus. The enhanced models provide a major update to the interior and electrical systems of the M2 and SD models. The OEM noted that the Plus Series is designed to

Truck cruise control technology that looks at the road ahead

If you’ve ever visited the Northeast region of the country, you’ve most likely encountered intimidating terrain. The winding roads. The steep hills. The intricate routes that challenge any seasoned driver, and, most recently, advanced cruise control systems that aim to improve fuel efficiency and driver comfort.   Related Articles – Four ways A.I. can help cut

Four ways A.I. can help cut diesel fuel costs

The fluctuation of fuel prices has made it more challenging to operate day-to-day. Drivers get paid by the mile, and, when fuel costs go up, margins shrink, impacting how fleets profit and pay their employees. Intelligent technology can lessen the impact of high prices by improving overall fuel efficiency. Related Articles – New ways to

Peterbilt GM Jason Skoog charts today’s truck support, tomorrow’s truck solutions

Peterbilt made headlines recently when it became the first major North American OEM to open orders for an electric truck, the Peterbilt 220EV. In this exclusive interview, Peterbilt General Manager and PACCAR Vice President Jason Skoog details the technology investments that are keeping fleets productive during this year’s trying pandemic and laying the groundwork for

Peterbilt General Manager PACCAR Technology Electric Truck

Other Posts

WEX At-Home, En Route charging reimbursement available across US

Through both the At-Home and En Route charging reimbursement programs, WEX aims to help close the commercial EV adoption gap.

Penske, Daimler Truck North America, Carrier Transicold introduce all-electric Class 7 refrigerated truck

The truck combines Class 7 Freightliner eM2 battery-electric body with Carrier Transicold’s Supra e11 eCool electric refrigeration unit.

New North American zero-emission commercial truck brand ZM Trucks debuts at ACT Expo

ZM showed off five truck models in the Class 4, 5, 6 and “baby8” segments, which the company expects to be on sale before the end of 2024.

REE unveils new design of electric truck platform

The new P7-S uses P7 REEcorners, making it a full by-wire chassis, and is designed to allow design flexibility for fleets and body builders.