Diesel News’ regular contributor, Paul Matthei, says ‘automated manual transmissions are the gearbox for me’, as he tries to get some perspective on the way we look at the AMT.
As a professional driver of semi-trailers and B-doubles for more than two decades, I have witnessed the steady development and acceptance of the automated manual transmission (AMT) from late last century. In fact, my first taste of a two-pedal AMT was in 2002 when I was assigned a new Volvo FM12 I-Shift equipped prime mover to do local refrigerated pickup and delivery work around Western Sydney.
I vividly recall the immediate reduction in fatigue I felt after a 10 hour stint compared to driving a manual truck. It just made the job so much easier and left me feeling no compulsion to return to driving a manual on a day-to-day basis. In short, I was sold on two-pedal automated transmissions after the first shift (pun intended).
These days, doing similar work driving two-pedal European trucks around South East Queensland, I remain convinced of the benefits of the AMT in reducing not only driver fatigue and vehicle wear and tear but also fuel consumption. The reason for this is that when driven in economy mode the engine rpm is kept as low as possible and by anticipating stops and getting off the throttle early, a worthwhile improvement in fuel economy can be achieved without sacrificing performance.
While the benefits are more pronounced in heavy-duty applications, AMT equipped light-duty vehicles such as the Isuzu N Series can be also expected to achieve superior results to manual counterparts, particularly in the hands of less experienced drivers.
And so it was, on a brisk morning the trucking media assembled at Isuzu headquarters in Port Melbourne to find out all about the new N Series. First up was an introduction to and from recently appointed Managing Director and CEO of Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL), Hiroshi Nishizaka, who said Isuzu expects continued strong demand for its products in developed countries such as Australia, Japan and the US.
“This will see Australia playing a more buoyant role as a developed economy in the Isuzu global picture,” he said, adding that 2016 was a very important year for Isuzu Australia on the product front. “It also marked a significant milestone for Isuzu Motors Japan, the 100th anniversary. The first Isuzu Japanese car was produced in 1922 and the first truck in 1924. Then in 1959 the very first Elf light truck was introduced, a forerunner of today’s N Series. Obviously the 2016 N Series is a far cry from the first generation Elf, representing over half a century of development and innovation.”
Next to the podium was Phil Taylor, Director and COO of Isuzu, who described 2016 as a watershed year for the company.
“It marked the first time two-pedal trucks outsold three-pedal variants in the light and medium-duty markets,” Taylor said. “We’re seeing a lot of businesses, especially those operating in urban PUD (pick-up and delivery) applications, making the switch to two-pedal trucks because of the much broader employment pool it offers. That’s because automatics and AMTs require less training than a manual, which immediately creates more options in staffing and a reduction in training costs.
“We’ve responded to the need for a more ‘car-like’ feel and ease of operation through our product ranges like the Isuzu ready-to-work line-up,” he added.
“The introduction of the Isuzu automated manual transmission with torque converter (TC-AMT) to our F Series range has generated a fantastic response, with our customers praising its efficiency, smoothness and ease of operation. We’re confident the updated 2016 N Series with Isuzu 3rd generation TC-AMT will be just as popular.”