Fleetowner 2577 Catexpo

Cat preparing automatics for vocational trucks

March 17, 2005
Caterpillar to produce automatic transmissions for its engines in vocational market

LAS VEGAS. Caterpillar is developing a complete line of fully automatic, planetary truck transmissions in an effort to create a more integrated powertrain package for the vocational market.

The company said it plans to begin production of these transmissions later this year, with availability in 2006, but stressed that they are aimed only at the vocational segment of the truck market, not the Class 8 on-highway arena.

“It just made sense to go into the vocational truck market with a transmission,” Tom Wickenhauser, a Caterpillar spokesman, told Fleet Owner here at the ConExpo-Con/Agg construction show. “We already had the technology, developed originally for our articulated dump trucks, and it will allow us to better integrate the engine and transmission for vocational customers to achieve optimum fuel economy and performance.”

The 6-speed CX31 transmission will be compatible with Caterpillar C11, C13 and C15 engines, while the 8-speed super-heavy-duty CX35 transmission will match up with higher-horsepower C15 ratings for vocational trucks, stated Caterpillar vp Chris Schena.

“Customers and original equipment manufacturers have been asking Caterpillar to provide automatic transmissions that can be matched with the Cat on-highway engines they are already buying,” Schena said. “It also means product support is greatly simplified, as customers will be able to use Caterpillar’s dealer network for service solutions and product support.”

Wickenhauser added that warranty and extended service coverage for the transmissions will be matched to the engine, creating a “one stop shop” for vocational truck users.

“The key is that both the engine and transmission will be talking the same ‘language,’” he explained. “When you have a Cat engine married to another brand, they are both talking different languages and need ‘interpretation’ to work together smoothly. You also don’t want them talking the same language, either, as both have proprietary features and software.”

Producing a completely integrated engine-transmission package is also going to be critical in terms of meeting the upcoming 2007 engine emission regulations, Wickenhauser noted.

“Having our own transmission is going to help us get the best fuel economy and performance from our Acert engines in ’07 for vocational users,” he said.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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