June 2015

Fleet Management News & Business Info | Commercial Carrier Journal

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32 COMMERCIAL CARRIER JOURNAL | JUNE 2015 EQUIPMENT Mack announced earlier this year that it was launching a new "ruggedized" version of its mDrive automated manual transmission, and last month the company in- vited me to its home in Allentown, Pa., to test-drive the new mDrive HD transmission at its Customer Center. John Walsh, Mack marketing vice president, said that as the mDrive and other AMTs have gained ground in on-highway applications, demand also has grown from customers wishing to spec mDrives for Mack's Granite and Titan heavy-haul models. Curtis Dorwart, Mack's vocational marketing manager, said that engineers recognized that simply beefing up existing mDrive components would not ensure durability in tough vocational applications. Granted, mDrive HD has more robust gears made from specially hardened steel, but engineers also have made other changes, including repositioning the oil cooler to be more efficient while reducing the chance of impact damage. Serious computing upgrades also were made, result- ing in new specialized operating modes for the mDrive HD. Grade Grabber allows the driver to hold the truck on a steep grade for three seconds without rolling back before accelerating smoothly. Power Launch holds the truck still before transferring a concentrated burst of torque to the drive wheels to power out of sand or loose gravel. Rock Free allows the driver to rock the truck back and forth to escape deep ruts or mud holes more effectively. During my test drive, I found that the mDrive HD performs on the highway the same as the dedicated on-highway version, offering smooth, precise shifts and complete hands-free control of the vehicle at all times. The mDrive HD also is packed with special voca- tionally-oriented features, but they are not always intuitive for drivers to operate. Walsh said Mack and its dealer network are planning a wide array of educa- tional programs for customers to learn more about the transmission. Mack showcases 'ruggedized' mDrive Mack developed its mDrive HD AMT because of demand from customers wishing to spec mDrives for its Granite and Titan heavy-haul models. BY JACK ROBERTS

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