Con-way makes automated transmissions a mainstream spec’

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JOPLIN, Mo. — Con-way Truckload has ordered 550 new tractors, 540 of which were spec’d with automated transmissions.

The company figures the switch will help it attract new drivers. Tandem-axles were specified, to provide drivers with a smoother ride, the company announced. Prior to this order, Con-way operated just 50 trucks with automatic transmissions.

“We’ve found that many younger drivers looking to enter the industry prefer the automatic transmissions because it removes the perception that operating a truck is outside of their ability,” said Gretchen Jackson, recruiting manager at Con-way Truckload. “Truck driving is an essential role within the economy and, given the current driver shortage, we want to provide career opportunities for those who have an interest but may think the job is unattainable.”

“Learning to shift a 10- or 13-speed transmission may make some new drivers nervous about starting a career in trucking,” added Stephanie Klang, professional driver for Con-way Truckload. “But with the auto shifts in the trucks today, new drivers can feel more comfortable, focus attention on their surroundings and maneuver their truck safety through traffic and congestion. While driving a truck still involves a lot of skill, the automatics make life on the road a little easier.”

Con-way says drivers also expressed a preference for 6×4 tractors, saying they handle more comfortably. Trucks have been ordered from Kenworth, Volvo, Navistar and Freightliner as part of the deal. They should be on the road by December, Con-way reports.

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