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The truck equipment trend of the year

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Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

Automated manual transmissions interest continues

Last year, Fleet Equipment named automated manual transmissions (AMTs) its 2014 Truck Equipment Trend of the Year, and demand for said transmissions continued so strongly this year that naming the top overall trend was a close call—editors were divided; arguments were heated. In the end, an AMT honorable mention was much deserved.

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“AMTs continue to gain popularity and we see that trend only getting stronger. Generally speaking, vehicles spec’d with an AMT grew approximately 10 percent over last year,” said Anthony Gansle, Peterbilt’s marketing manager, on-highway products. “There are two main factors that continue push the popularity of AMTs—improved fuel efficiency and easier operation. Regarding the latter, many fleets are choosing AMTs because they create a deeper driver pool to recruit from and can help less experienced drivers perform like more seasoned operators. It’s a very effective tool for recruiting and retaining drivers, and it helps fleets optimize the performance of their operators.”

In 2014, Volvo experienced I-Shift penetration of 77.5%. Because of the increased driver productivity, fuel efficiency and reliability, the feedback from our customers has been remarkable,” said John Moore, Volvo Trucks’ product marketing manager—powertrain. “This excellent feedback has driven 2015 I-Shift sales even higher. Because of Volvo’s vertical integration of the engine, transmission and chassis, we are gaining market share penetration by selling specific application solutions, such as Volvo Adaptive Gearing, that require the I-Shift. Adaptive Gearing is specifically designed to optimize fuel economy for tanker, bulk and other applications that go out heavy and return light.

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“Even our Cummins-powered units are seeing an uptick in AMT use because of the SmartAdvantage integrated driveline,” Moore added.

Stu Russoli, Mack’s highway and powertrain products marketing manager, said that continued customer demand for Mack’s mDrive AMT was the OE’s biggest trend this year.

“There are still drivers out there who scoff at the thought of an automated manual transmission, but more and more we find these people are changing their minds after they simply drive one for a couple of days,” he said. “The overall response to our mDRIVE automated manual transmissions continues to be very positive, as customers better understand the fuel efficiency, performance and productivity benefits. We also have a lot of drivers commenting on the reduction of driver fatigue, especially in applications that requiring frequent shifting.”

To give you an idea of their popularity, Freightliner’s Aufdemberg reported that approximately 50% of Class 8 units were delivered with AMTs in 2015.

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