Detroit Launches Production of DT12 Transmission

The 12-speed transmission will be available exclusively in the Freightliner Cascadia equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine.

GAGGENAU, Germany – Detroit’s DT12 automated manual transmission is now in full production at Daimler’s plant here in the scenic Black Forest. The 119-year-old Gaggenau powertrain facility will build it for North America until 2015, when manufacturing will be transferred to Detroit headquarters in Redford, MI. The Michigan plant will then supply North America on its own and may also feed export markets if demand is there.

The DT12 is said to enhance fuel economy and performance for over-the-road/linehaul applications, while also saving weight — Daimler says it’s 120 lb or 54 kg lighter than competitive models.

The 12-speed transmission will be available exclusively in the Freightliner Cascadia equipped with a Detroit DD15 engine, and in other Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) vehicles at unspecified later dates. Additional versions of the DT12 for DD13 and DD16 engines will be released in late 2013 and 2014. There will also be 8- and 16-speed versions of the transmission in the near future, though those timelines have also yet to be defined.

Full production assembly of the DT12 in the Cascadia is expected to start on May 6 at the company’s manufacturing plant in Cleveland, NC.

“The Gaggenau facility is the lead plant for all Daimler transmissions globally, so launching our production in Germany allows us to leverage operational efficiencies and production standards,” said Dr. Frank Reintjes, head of Global Powertrain, Procurement and Manufacturing Engineering, Daimler Trucks. “With the launch of the heavy-duty engine platform, we followed a similar process when transferring the production from Redford to Mannheim, Germany, benefitting from the experienced production force in NAFTA. Our manufacturing process adheres to our Global Excellence Strategy by leveraging the strengths of Gaggenau’s global and Detroit’s regional footprints, resulting in the highest-quality products.”

As one key component in Daimler’s global powertrain strategy, the DT12 will also be used in Fuso heavy trucks and has already seen service in Mercedes-Benz vehicles for the last two years.

The DT12 combines the operational ease of a two-pedal automatic with the efficiency of a manual transmission, says Detroit. Engineered for economy, it includes features such as eCoast, skip shift, Active Driveline Protection, and optional direct drive. The DT12 also has three driving modes that drivers can select based on terrain and application.

“The DT12 is not only more fuel-efficient, but also has features that increase comfort and safety for drivers,” said Brad Williamson, DTNA’s manager, Engine and Component Marketing. “We have incorporated a number of performance-enhancing elements that will ultimately benefit driveability, efficiency, and overall total cost of ownership.”

The factory-installed Detroit Virtual Technician onboard diagnostic system will mean improvements in uptime, the company says. When a check-transmission light illuminates, the fault is sent to a dedicated DT12 technical contact who will immediately analyze the issue and provide a service recommendation.

The 12-speed DT12 accommodates all DD15 engine ratings from 455 to 505 hp, with torque input ranging from 1550 to 1750 lb ft. It comes with a five-year/750,000-mile standard warranty, and the clutch comes with a three-year/350,000-mile warranty.

The transmission is part of the complete line of Detroit powertrain components that also includes Detroit engines and axles.

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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