Partly it was timing—the I-Shift arrived just when the trucking industry began to see massive driver shortages. New drivers found the I-Shift less intimidating. And experienced drivers realized it was making their lives easier.
"We hear it from fleet owners across the country: the I-Shift gets new drivers in the seat, and it extends careers of people already on the road," says Product Marketing Manager Allison Athey.
The old I-Shift made excellent drivers even better. Even the best drivers can’t shift as efficiently, Athey says. It wore on their bodies less, taxed their muscles less, let them focus more on the road.
Finding new gears The new I-Shift does all that even better. The already smooth-shifting transmission features larger springs on the clutch to dampen vibrations, which lessens wear and tear all the way down the driveline and reduces noise in the cab.
Enhanced countershaft brakes, new engaging sleeves and shift fork configuration all make the I-Shift even smoother and faster under heavier stress and repeated shifting, and help maintain momentum.
This transmission changed the industry. We’re proud to make it even better
"The I-Shift already has the best shifting performance out there. We’ve made it better, because we want to stay the leader," Athey says.
More efficient memories Another new feature, predictive cruise control software called I-See, takes advantage of the truck’s momentum to save fuel.
I-See geolocates and "remembers" the length and grade of up to 4,500 hills on frequently traveled routes. The software informs I-Shift how to most efficiently shift the transmission through the length of each hill in the memory bank. I-See learns new hills and discards seldom driven routes or grades where little efficiency can be gained.
"In hilly terrain, drivers get mentally worn out by constantly having to think about when to shift," Athey says. "Now the truck can be a more efficient partner for the driver, boosting fuel efficiency and minimizing fatigue."
Connections, connections The new I-Shift is part of a connected vehicle, providing remote diagnostic abilities for the transmission. Only Volvo provides this service.
"Our remote transmission diagnostics help us alert fleet managers or owners to potential issues and can save significant amounts of money in repair costs and downtime," Athey says.
Safety and savings The improved I-Shift is also a safety feature. "With an I-Shift, drivers are not so focused on finding the right gear," says Athey, "so they can have two hands on the wheel and pay more attention to the road ahead."
The I-Shift also shortens driver training. When you spend less time teaching drivers to shift, you can spend more time training them to safely haul a trailer.
Volvo Trucks recently celebrated the production of the 100,000th truck featuring an I-Shift transmission, all of which are produced at the company’s Hagerstown, MD, manufacturing facility.
"We’re really proud of this transmission," says Athey. "We’re proud that it’s manufactured in our Hagerstown plant. We’re proud of how it’s changed the industry, and we’re proud to make it even better."