I was a little, maybe a lot, nervous back in 2015 when we announced in our Confidence Report on electronically controlled transmission that we thought the time had come for widespread adoption of what is commonly called automated manual transmissions.
That was not the first time we’d been told we were too far ahead of a technology change, but I was really concerned about this one given comments I’d heard from drivers about how they could get better fuel economy because of their superior shifting skills than could be achieved through any automation of the shifting process. And fleets were saying, yeah right, we have been told before that these automated transmissions would work as intended and been disappointed. So, what’s changed?
But then I started hearing comments from fleet managers at our workshops about how after having to negotiate with seasoned drivers and promise them that if they hated the electronically controlled transmissions they could go back to their manuals, those same drivers coming around and saying how much they loved the ATMs. And some fleet owners even told me they were switching all their trucks to automated transmissions.
Last year we saw several truck manufacturers make announcements about making automated transmissions standard on certain models of their trucks. Paccar being the most recent to announce its making its automated transmission standard on the Kenworth T680 models.
Regardless of the reasons why fleets are spec’ing AMTs in large numbers or why manufacturers are making them a standard spec, the reality is that fleets are realizing a 1% to 3% improvement over manual transmissions when their trucks use a computer to shift at the optimal time.
AMTs also have the additional benefit of enabling even higher levels of performance with features such as downspeeding.
I don't get to gloat too often, but this is one of those times when our predictions came true. Sure feels good to be right. Even if it is only once in a while.