Big shift in favour

The trans­mis­sion re­vamp is here, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.



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