Joining a number of other automated mechanical transmissions upon its debut in 2001, the Volvo Trucks’ I-Shift has proven the test of time, reaching its 10-year anniversary. Today, that transmission is now the transmission of choice on over 80% of FH trucks around the world, the company said.
The transmission replaced Volvo’s first automated manual transmission (AMT), the Geartronic, which saw acceptance into just 1% of all trucks sold. Designed for long-haul transport, the I-Shift utilized a number of new concepts to achieve results.
“We created a totally new unsynchronized basic transmission and an integral control unit with all the electronics, sensors and so on,” said Sven-Erik Tibb, project manager. “We then added software that was fully tailored for long-distance traffic. This gave us total control of the engine and gear-changing.”
Using electronic control, the straightforward mechanics of the I-Shift have resulted in reduced fuel consumption for users, the company said, while allowing the driver to focus on the road rather than worrying about when the next shift must occur.
“The driver is free to fully concentrate on the traffic and does not become tired from all the gear-changing by the end of the working day,” said Ricard Fritz, senior vice president-strategic planning and business development. “I-Shift is also very easy to drive, and this is appreciated by both experienced drivers and those who are not so experienced.”
In 2005, Volvo released the next generation of the I-Shift, which included a new clutch system and new range-change unit, making it suitable for higher gross combination weights, particularly for construction and forest applications. This updating made the transmission available for 16L engines, not just the 9L and 12L models of before.
Previously only available in Europe, Volvo introduced the I-Shift to the U.S. market in 2007. In 2009, the third generation was introduced.
“From the very start, we had developed programs for different types of operation and customers were able to choose between the various programs. Each new generation added new applications and now even really heavy-duty construction vehicles like the Volvo FMX can be equipped with I-Shift,” said Tibb.
Volvo continues to refine the transmission today as it continues to look for more fuel efficiency, reduced weight, and even more applications where it can appropriately fit.