MATS: Mack plans plans smooth shift into recovering market

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mack Trucks is well positioned for success as economic and market conditions improve, according to Kevin Flaherty, the truckmaker’s senior vice-president.

Flaherty spoke at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky. where Mack introduced several new products, including the MACK mDRIVE automated manual transmission.

Flaherty also cited the strength of the Mack dealer network, growing demand for the company’s natural gas trucks, the company’s leadership position in export last year, and successful execution on military contracts as harbingers of future success.

All of the company’s trucks sold in North America are now built in the same facility – the Mack Macungie Assembly Operations near Allentown, Pa.

“We take great pride in the fact that every truck we sell here in North America is built right here in the U.S.,” Flaherty said. “We think there’s value in that, and believe customers do, too. We export trucks, not jobs.”

Mack expects the automated transmission in those domestically built trucks to be a big hit. The company says the new 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.

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

“To be considered Pedigreed, the engine, transmission and axles must be all Mack, providing performance and fuel economy second to none,” says Flaherty. “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 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 transmission’s Economy mode maximizes time spent in top gear, while Performance mode maximizes gradeability.

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.

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

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