LAS VEGAS—Executives at Mack Trucks North America kicked off the first day of this year’s World of Concrete trade show with the announcement that 20% of its work trucks are now being ordered without a clutch pedal and shift lever.
Last year at this show, the truck maker said its 12-speed automated manual transmission (AMT), which it calls mDRIVE HD, would come as standard equipment on its Granite vocational truck model. Soon after, Mack expanded the mDRIVE HD to include the standard version of the larger Titan truck model.
For the standard on-highway mDRIVE, the penetration rate is now up to 73%. “The AMT is a good combination,” said Stephen Roy, president. “It gives you that automatic feel, but it’s still a manual transmission,” without the cost of a fully-automatic transmission, he added.
At first, highway truckers resisted driving rigs without clutch pedals and shift levers, but the ease of use gradually grew on them. “We think that same evolution is going to happen on the vocational side,” Roy said at the concrete show, held Feb. 2-5 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Available in overdrive and direct drive, the mDRIVE HD continuously monitors changes in grade, vehicle speed, throttle position, acceleration, torque demand and gross vehicle weight. It automatically chooses the best gear for the road condition, allowing drivers to focus on the terrain rather than shifting gears, according to Mack.
The benefits, said vocational products marketing manager Curtis Dorwart, include less driver fatigue, easier new driver training and better fuel economy.
Mack announced that its integrated telematics solution, GuardDog Connect, is now standard in all TerraPro Cabover models equipped with Mack MP engines. Roy projected a North American Class 8 truck market of 280,000 units for 2016, down from 2015’s robust 310,000 but still considered it a strong year ahead.