Volvo I-Shift now standard

Volvo Trucks ( will now offer its I-Shift automated manual transmission (AMT) as standard on all Volvo-powered trucks built for the North American market.

Sales of the Volvo I-Shift reached record levels in 2012, with nearly one of every two Volvo trucks built in North America featuring the Volvo I-Shift, said Göran Nyberg, president, Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing.

"Introducing I-Shift as standard across our product lineup is an exciting development that reflects our confidence in its performance and the value it provides to our customers and their operations," he said. "The Volvo I-Shift is a tremendous tool to help combat rising fuel costs and improve driver productivity and safety. I-Shift is also proven to help attract, train and retain drivers."

Since its introduction in 2001, Volvo has sold more than 330,000 I-Shifts globally, and the company  is currently building more than 80 percent of trucks globally with the I-Shift.

Well over a decade of production experience has made Volvo I-Shift the world's leading AMT, noted Nyberg.

Market share of the I-Shift has steadily grown since 2007, when Volvo became the first OEM to bring an integrated AMT to the North American market. In 2012, nearly 60 percent of Volvo-powered vehicles built also featured an I-Shift.

Volvo was the first to offer multiple premium packages with the I-Shift, and the first to introduce innovative technologies like load and grade sensors, skip shifting and Eco-Roll.

The 12-speed Volvo I-Shift is able to downshift and upshift in smaller, optimum steps - averages 28 percent - between gears compared with competitive transmissions, which average 37 percent steps between gears. This improves drivability and skip shifting. Integrated sensors identify truck load and road grade to place the truck in the right gear for the conditions for smooth, optimum shifts, extending clutch life and service intervals.

I-Shift also reduces wasted revs and boosts fuel efficiency by up to 1.56 percent when compared to an unproductive driver, noted Nyberg.

I-Shift is a central component to Volvo's XE efficient powertrain package, which further reduces fuel consumption by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls "downspeeding," he said.

Volvo's XE packages downspeed the engine at cruising speeds by 200 rpm or more than traditional specs, so trucks spec'd with XE13 cruise at just 1,150 rpm at 65 mph, while the XE16 powertrain package can cruise as low as 1,100 rpm at 65 mph.

Fuel efficiency improves by about 1.5 percent for every 100 rpm of downspeeding, so customers spec'ing the XE package can expect up to a 3 percent improvement when compared with another overdrive transmission in a similar operation.

In 2012, more than 10 percent of all Volvo trucks delivered featured an XE powertrain.

The Volvo I-Shift is proven to help attract and retain drivers, largely because it improves driver comfort and lessens the physical demands of the job, said Nyberg. An independent fleet study showed a 54 percent increase in first-year driver retention when driving a vehicle equipped with an I-Shift.

The study also showed a 10 percent reduction in turnover among experienced drivers. I-Shift can also help reduce the time needed to train new drivers.

I-Shift's ease of operation has helped improve driver safety by reducing fatigue and allowing drivers to give their full attention to operating the vehicle. According to the American Trucking Associations' comprehensive safety publication Safety for the Long Haul, AMTs, like the Volvo I-Shift, can help reduce the rate of crashes among inexperienced drivers by 26 percent and reduce the crash rate of experienced drivers by 22 percent.

The I-Shift's lightweight design provides a weight savings in excess of 100 pounds compared with 13- and 18-speed transmissions.

The I-Shift is now produced at Volvo's Hagerstown, MD, powertrain facility. The transmissions were previously assembled in Köping, Sweden and then sent to Hagerstown for adaptation to North American market requirements.