Eaton Corp. plans to expand its UltraShift automated manual transmission line to address specific vocational markets, with releases scheduled for mid-2008, according to company executives.
The transmissions will be designed for use in mixers, dumps and severe-service trucks through an extension of the current UltraShift technology, explains 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 national truckload carriers US Express, Trans Am and Maverick.
“The automated transmissions are preferable for fleets who have the hardest time finding and keeping drivers,” says 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 notes that the percentage of its automated transmission sales has increased by a point or two during 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 in 2007, the percentage of automated transmissions sold by Eaton did not decrease as feared, says Thurman, who notes that 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,” he adds.