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August 31, 2015 10:50 AM, EDT

Allison Cites Fuel Savings Using TC10 Transmission

John Sommers II for TT
This story appears in the Aug. 31 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

INDIANAPOLIS — Allison Transmission, which makes the only fully automatic transmission for heavy-duty trucks in the United States, said that fleets using its TC10 automatic gearbox report a 5% improvement in fuel economy over manual transmissions or automated manuals.

Chairman and CEO Larry Dewey said during media day at headquarters here that the fully automatic transmission shifts more efficiently than either manual or automated manual gearboxes.

Dewey, also Allison’s president, said that fuel is wasted when the power is interrupted during gear shifts with manuals or AMTs.

“With the TC10, power goes to the wheels continuously,” he said. This increases fuel efficiency, particularly when there is more start-and-stop driving.

When a manual or AMT shifts gears, the engine slows and has to come back up to driving speed.

Dewey also said that automatic transmissions increase productivity and make driver recruitment and retention easier.

Trucks with automatic transmissions accelerate more quickly from a stationary position, so they can move more quickly in urban traffic and merge into traffic more quickly. Dewey said that means that, over the course of a day, trucks arrive at their destinations sooner, so productivity goes up.

Automatic transmissions help fleets expand the pool of drivers that can be hired by making driving easier. “The training period is significantly reduced,” Dewey said. “Drivers have to learn how to handle the big truck, but they don’t have to learn how to shift.”

Allison, which celebrates its centennial this year, began production of its TC10 automatic in 2013. The company said its units are being used by about 140 fleets but would not disclose how many it has sold. Revenue totaled $2.127 billion in 2014.

Transmissions used in over-the-road tractors account for 7% to 10% of Allison’s entire business, Dewey said. The company also makes transmissions that are used in buses, refuse trucks, delivery trucks, motor homes and a variety of vehicles for applications including agriculture and mining.

The company was founded by James Allison, who also was one of the founders of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1915, he started the Indianapolis Speedway Team Co., and four years later his team won the Indy 500.

Today, Allison Transmission is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. In addition to its main plant in Indianapolis, Allison has manufacturing facilities in Hungary and India and regional headquarters in the Netherlands, China and Brazil.

Besides truck and coach transmissions, the company has made aircraft engines, automatic transmissions for military tanks and hybrid propulsion systems.