Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Mack unveils mDRIVE automated manual transmission

Thursday, March 25, 2010
The mDRIVE AMT gives customers up to 1.5 percent improved fuel efficiency, Mack officials said at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
The mDRIVE AMT gives customers up to 1.5 percent improved fuel efficiency, Mack officials said at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mack Trucks today unveiled at the Mid-America Trucking Show under way here the Mack mDRIVE, the company’s new automated manual transmission (AMT).

The mDRIVE AMT gives customers up to 1.5 percent improved fuel efficiency, better driveability and enhanced driver satisfaction by automating gear shifting, while improving safety, according to Kevin Flaherty, senior vice president for the U.S. and Canada.

The MACK mDRIVE is designed and engineered to work exclusively with MACK MP series engines.

It will be available on MACK Pinnacle model highway tractors powered by the MP7 and MP8 engines.  Customers may order the new mDRIVE now, with deliveries to begin early in the fourth quarter of this year.

The mDRIVE was one of several engine and powertrain-related announcements Mack made during the show.

 Mack also introduced the new C150/151 family of rear axles, with new gear ratios tailored for the MP series of engines, as well as new Econodyne engine ratings to maximize fuel economy.

“mDRIVE boldly expands Mack’s leadership in heavy-duty powertrains,” Flaherty said.“To be considered Pedigreed, the engine, transmission and axles must be all Mack, providing performance and fuel economy second to none.  Our customers told us they wanted a Pedigreed-quality AMT and Mack is stepping up with the mDRIVE.  Because we build trucks with integrated components, we deliver trucks exactly fitted to customer applications.  It’s what we refer to as Balanced Design.  The entire vehicle is more reliable and performs better because each component is designed in concert with the others.”

The Mack mDRIVE has 12 forward and four reverse speeds, and is available in direct drive or overdrive.  It has a torque capacity of 1920 lb-ft and a dry weight of 615 pounds.

The shifting strategy for mDRIVE is optimized for North American highway conditions and is based on cruise speeds of 1350 to 1450 rpm for best performance and fuel economy.

The driver interacts with mDRIVE through a dash-mounted control pad containing manual input and hold shift buttons, with an integral display indicating the current gear.

In addition, the Mack Co-Pilot driver display in the center of the instrument panel provides the driver with transmission status, including the number of upshifts or downshifts available, the current gear and the current operating mode (such as economy or performance).

“The transmission’s eonomy mode maximizes time spent in top gear, while performance mode maximizes gradeability,” Flaherty said.  “An additional MackCellerator or kick-down feature drops the transmission one gear (while synchronizing engine RPM) when the accelerator pedal is sharply depressed beyond its detent to maximize acceleration in passing situations.  mDRIVE also provides an optional Grade Gripper or hill start assist when launching the truck on an incline, to prevent the vehicle from rolling backward.  It also detects if the tractor is attached to a trailer and automatically reduces torque output if the tractor is bobtailing, which saves fuel.”

mDRIVE is available in two versions:  Fleet and Premium.

The Fleet package includes basic shifter controls, with Grade Gripper and MackCellerator as options.

The Premium package consists of a shifter with more features for greater driver control, including manual shift inputs,    performance and economy modes, plus Grade Gripper and MackCellerator.  mDRIVE is available with two optional rear-mounted power takeoffs (PTO). 

“An important aspect of mDRIVE is the sophistication of its programming,” Flaherty said. “For instance, the optional Easy Shift feature provides especially smooth shifting for liquid bulk, livestock and similar applications, where abrupt moves need to be avoided.” 

mDRIVE also addresses a customer concern with other AMTs by allowing the truck to start in higher gears than first if conditions warrant (many drivers find it irritating to have to rev through all gears as the truck gains speed, rather than block shifting as mDRIVE allows), he said

In addition, Mack’s AMT has an extensive list of customer-programmable parameters and functions, so transmission performance can be dialed in for a specific customer application.

Other notable mDRIVE features include:

• Cruise’n Brake, which limits engine brake operation while in cruise control until the target speed has been reached.

• Gear selection adjustment in auto mode, which allows the start gear and driving gear to be manually selected using the Premium shifter.

• Low Speed Modulation control, which enables clutch management at very low vehicle speeds when using the brake pedal to control vehicle speed, such as when backing into a loading dock or driving onto a weigh scale.

• Customer predefined splitter position when engaging PTO operation.

• Auto Neutral, which automatically shifts the transmission to neutral if the engine has been shut off while in gear or after four minutes of idling with the parking brake applied; this prevents stalling and reduces the load on the transmission.

“Customers who have tested mDRIVE tell me this is one very smart transmission,” said David McKenna, director of powertrain sales and marketing.  “mDRIVE’s intelligence, its light weight and its intuitive performance help customers achieve up to an additional 1.5 percent improvement in fuel economy, while making drivers happier.  And the fact that drivers don’t have to worry about shifting means they are more focused on driving, with their eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel, which enhances highway safety.”

According to McKenna, there are several categories of customers who will find mDRIVE very attractive.

Bulk haulers and fuel delivery fleets will benefit from the lightweight 11-liter MACK MP7 – mDRIVE combination, especially with the Easy Shift and PTO flexibility, he said.

 This combination will also appeal to rental and lease fleets, both day cab and sleeper tractors, since mDRIVE dramatically simplifies driver training and equipment familiarization.  

When spec’ed with the Mack MP7-405E, the 13-liter MACK MP8-415E, MP8-445E or MP8-505E, mDRIVE shines for truckload and regional fleets that demand maximum fuel economy in a lightweight package., McKenna said.

 mDRIVE operation is integrated with the PowerLeash engine brake to control road speed and increase miles per gallon.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.