Eaton Corp. plans to expand its UltraShift automated manual transmission line to address specific vocational trucking markets with releases scheduled for mid-2008, company executives said.
The transmissions will be designed for use in mixers, dumps, and severe-service trucks through an extension of the current UltraShift technology, said Tim Sinden, gm of heavy-duty performance and vocational transmissions.
This is part of Eaton's mission to further its line of automated transmissions, which have recently been added by US Express, Trans Am, and Maverick, three long-haul truckload national carriers. "The automated transmissions are preferable for fleets who have the hardest time finding and keeping drivers," said Mark Thurman, gm of heavy duty fleet and automated transmissions. "Automatic transmissions help them hire and retain drivers, because all drivers become as good as the best driver on the fleet with this technology."
In general, most of these new automated customers have come via Eaton's manual transmissions. Thurman noted that the percentage of their automated transmission sales has increased by a point or two each of the past several years because of competitive pricing vs. automatic transmissions as well as a comfort level with the Eaton name.
Despite the decrease in the number of trucks sold throughout the industry in 2007, the percentage of automated transmissions sold by Eaton did not decrease as feared, said Thurman, who noted there are now 110,000 Eaton automated units in service. "If the price-value ratio is there for customers, it helps the bottom line with driver retention and savings," noted Thurman.