Wel­fare driv­ing new UD

Au­to­matic trans­mis­sion gives new MK6 an edge, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

WITH driver safety and com­fort so cru­cial in at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing driv­ers, UD’s new au­to­matic trans­mis­sion- equipped medium-duty MK6 could be the key to un­lock­ing sales for the un­der­rated brand.

The MK6 is one of three mod­els in the new 10.4- tonne GVM medium-duty MK range and of­fers the choice of a six-speed man­ual gear­box or a five-speed Al­li­son au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

While au­to­matic trans­mis­sions are com­mon in vo­ca­tional trucks such as tip­pers, waste col­lec­tion and con­crete ag­i­ta­tors and the like, they are less com­mon in dis­tri­bu­tion trucks.

But con­cerns for the health and wel­fare of driv­ers have op­er­a­tors look­ing to au­to­matic or au­to­mated trans­mis­sions to re­duce the stress and strain of con­stantly chang­ing gears.

Driv­ers who are less fa­tigued are sharper at the wheel, which makes them safer and more pro­duc­tive.

‘‘Our cus­tomers have em­pha­sised that a ma­jor fac­tor in achiev­ing im­proved pro­duc­tiv­ity is to em­ploy a more com­fort­able truck which is eas­ier to drive and re­duces the like­li­hood of fa­tigue,’’ UD mar­ket­ing man­ager Shan­non Tay­lor says.

‘‘Ad­di­tion­ally, op­er­a­tors are find­ing it hard to re­cruit and keep driv­ers and fac­tors such as trucks equipped with au­to­matic trans­mis­sions will broaden the ap­peal of a com­pany’s fleet to driv­ers.’’

Other truck mak­ers in the medium-duty mar­ket, like mar­ket leader Isuzu, have cho­sen to use au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sions rather than a fully au­to­mated one with a torque con­verter like the Al­li­son.

With an auto, the ac­cel­er­a­tion is smoother and more pro­gres­sive with no pauses, mean­ing the truck gets up to speed faster and stays there eas­ier.

It might not seem much at first, but in a day’s run­ning with all of the gear-changes in­volved it can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween get­ting an ex­tra trip in or not. It’s that ef­fi­ciency ad­van­tage UD be­lieves will have op­er­a­tors flock­ing to its deal­er­ships in search of the new MK6.

Au­to­matic trans­mis­sions have tra­di­tion­ally been re­jected for ap­pli­ca­tions other than stop-start work like col­lect­ing refuse et cetera, be­cause of their higher fuel con­sump­tion, but Al­li­son claims the fuel con­sump­tion penalty of its trans­mis­sion com­pared to an au­to­mated man­ual gear­box is min­i­mal thanks to its lock-up con­verter that en­gages in ev­ery gear to elim­i­nate con­verter slip­page, the pri­mary cause of higher fuel use.

A re­cent run in an MK6 equipped with the op­tional Al­li­son 2500 fivespeed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion con­firmed UD’s claims for ease of driv­ing.

The 10.4-tonne GVM rigid pan ac­cel­er­ated swiftly and with­out any pause as it swapped ra­tios, the shifts were smooth and crisp and it com­fort­ably kept pace with the traf­fic.

Out on the open road it eas­ily main­tained the high­way speed limit on cruise, climbed hills with­out los­ing mo­men­tum and its pow­er­ful re­tarder held it safely when de­scend­ing them.

It was clearly more com­fort­able and less tir­ing than the au­to­mated shift trans­mis­sions pre­vi­ously sam­pled by Big Wheels and could in­deed rep­re­sent the break­through UD is seek­ing to get sales mov­ing.

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