Big shift in favour
The transmission revamp is here, writesGRAHAMSMITH
IT HAS been a battle but UD general manager John Bushell is on the verge of getting the heavy-duty truck with an automated shift transmission that he’s wanted for so long.
The development and testing program of the new Eaton automated shift transmission has been completed and the truck has exceeded even the optimistic expectations of Bushell and the Eaton engineers central to the project.
UD’s local engineers rejected the UD automated gearbox it was offered by Japan in favour of the Eaton box because the UD gearbox is a synchromesh unit, and synchromesh gearboxes are notoriously slow to shift, compared with a constant mesh gearbox such as the Eaton.
Production of the ECUs for the Eaton gearbox installation has been going on since December and UD hopes to make the first deliveries of the auto-equipped GW in the next month or two.
‘‘It’s going to be great,’’ Bushell says. ‘‘The reports coming back from Eaton are positive about the installation.
‘‘As I understand it Eaton is particularly happy about the communication between the ECUs in the UD truck and the Eaton transmission.
‘‘It’s so much more sophisticated and refined than that between the transmission and some of the American trucks it’s been fitted to so there are none of the problems sometimes associated with the automated gearbox in other brands.’’
Three trucks have been built with the transmission and have been handed over to customers for early field testing before general release.
Bushell says test drivers who have experienced the Eaton transmission have been lavish in their praise.
‘‘Even the guy driving the truck in the high GCM testing, who normally drives a Kenworth, was surprised at how well it pulled,’’ he says. ‘‘He was very complimentary about it.’’
Bushell has high hopes for the heavy-duty GW model with the Eaton automated shift gearbox and the medium-duty trucks fitted with the Allison automatic transmission, which have also won high praise from those who have driven them.
UD released the MK auto last year and will soon have a larger PK model available with the Allison auto.
‘‘We don’t have the number of models of other brands, but in a straight model-for-model comparison where we do have models we have 18 to 20 per cent of the medium-duty says.
‘‘The addition of these autos gives us a new position where we won’t have any competition.’’
UD has been a leader of the 350 horsepower-plus Japanese market, but has felt under threat, Bushell says, with Isuzu coming out with higher horsepower engines in the heavy end of the medium-duty segment and heavy-duty market.