What’s in a word? Why it is essential to be fully informed about automatics

Nathan Wilson, Market Development Manager, Allison Transmission

When deciding which vehicles to buy or lease, it is crucial to be fully confident you are making the best component choices. That you are fully up-to-speed on the differences in performance, usability and running costs, yet, there is one significant technology that not all truck fleet operators are fully aware of, comments Allison Transmission’s, Nathan Wilson.

The technology we’re talking about is automatic transmissions. People in our industry often speak of automatics in trucks as if they are all the same, but they’re not. Though the ‘automatic’ label is applied as a convenient cover-all, it doesn’t cover all. Whereas some automatics are automated manual transmissions (AMTs), others are fully automatic – there’s a big difference, and these terms are not interchangeable.

An AMT indeed decides when gearshifts are appropriate, without any driver input. But AMTs still rely on a dry clutch plate, like a manual gearbox. The clutch is a mechanical component exposed to wear and tear, which needs regular maintenance and replacement, causing vehicle downtime and cost.

With a planetary automatic transmission, on the other hand, the engine is free of such limitations. Clutch maintenance is no longer a necessity or necessary. Neither is moderating low-rpm torque. This process results in better startability, improved low-speed acceleration, and reduced maintenance. It can also permit the same job being done with a smaller-displacement engine, reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

Torque converter with continuous power delivery 

With removing the disconnect clutch, Allison Transmission, the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles, has been able to introduce its patented torque converter.

The torque converter smoothly multiplies engine torque almost two-fold during launch, delivering more power to the wheels for a more willing getaway and giving precise throttle control for low-speed manoeuvrability. This system is fully hydraulic. It protects the drivetrain against torque shocks and vibrations and requires only routine oil and filter changes. 

With Continuous Power Technology, unlike AMTs, there is no interruption of power delivery to the vehicle’s wheels. Compared to AMTs. Trucks fitted with planetary automatics can also move from a standstill to 50mph in 35% less time and maintain a 14% higher speed, improving productivity. 

So, next time you read the word ‘automatic’ in a brochure or vehicle specification list, avoid any misunderstanding.

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