The Lockwood Report

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September 12, 2012 Vol. 8, No. 19

Among my life’s low points, few have ranked as far down as this one: I can’t make it to next week’s IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hannover, Germany, for the first time in a couple of decades. Don’t get me wrong, because I live a great life, but IAA has been a highlight for many years. I love Germany, for one thing, and I have a ton of chums from Europe and elsewhere whom I rarely see except at this gigantic show. It’s truly a gathering point for those of us who ply the motor-noter trade — from a global perspective.
And of course I learn stuff there, because the IAA is also a meeting point for the highest of high technology in trucking. That’s been increasingly true over the years, all the more so as the world has continued to shrink and the links between European and American manufacturers have grown ever stronger. Not sure how much stronger they can get, to be honest.
A logical leap from that point would be to talk about when we’ll see a truly global truck. We won’t. Local conditions are simply too different from one country or continent to the next. Government regulations rule trucking more and more, even in places where you wouldn’t expect it, but of course there’s little if anything in common between them. And truck operators, of course, do it differently according to all manner of national conditions. 
So if not whole trucks, we’re seeing components move from continent to continent, usually modified in some way or other to fit a given local need. Daimler axles, Volvo transmissions, Paccar/DAF engines and a host of other examples from those outfits and others mark the new way.
So when Germany’s ZF comes up with a very, very interesting new transmission, I’m going to sit up and take note.
THE MODULAR ZF TRAXON TRANSMISSION will be launched at IAA next week, and it looks like a pretty capable piece of machinery that covers almost every base imagineable. An automatic box — or rather several of them in one — it can come in dual-clutch form or, among others, a setup that allows hybrid power in heavy trucks. And it can include an anticipatory GPS-based shifting strategy in which it ‘sees’ the road ahead, a feature that we’ve seen on Daimler trucks. But that just scratches the surface.
ZF is presenting a completely new basic transmission with a modular concept in the TraXon. Innovative as hell, it offers more torque capacity without compromising the power-to-weight ratio; it has a higher gear spread while noise suppression has improved; and, depending on the application, it can not only be driven by a dry clutch but also by a hybrid module, dual-clutch module, or a torque converter clutch. It can also be combined with an engine-dependent PTO.
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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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