It wasn’t that long ago that if you suggested to a fleet in the Gulf that they switched to an automatic transmission that you would be greeted with a polite but blunt ‘no’.
Pushed to explain why, a typical response would be that drivers simply don’t want them or trust them. Delving deeper you would hear anecdotes about failures, long repair times and worries about their reliability out in the field. To an extent, the scepticism was right.
You can delve into early issues of Truck & Fleet Middle East and find notes about upgrades that tackled previous problems with automatic and automated transmissions. Many a system has come to the market, get put into a largely oil and gas role, and be largely ignored by the majority of fleets.
But the market has changed. Heavy duty and medium truck driving isn’t dominated by the off-highway operations that served the vast construction projects of the boom years and instead are spread across a wide range of missions.
In today’s more cost-conscious era where it also pays for fleets to be thinking of the residual value of their vehicles; and besides less wear and tear means less downtime and higher fleet productivity.
Last month, saw Allison Transmission and Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA open up on their partnership in front of the UAE media; letting them take a Mercedes-Benz Atego 4×4 powered by the Allison 3000 Series transmission through its paces.
Allison Transmission is at the forefront of the design and production of conventional and electrified vehicle propulsion solutions and the largest global manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic transmissions for commercial and defense vehicles.
Muhammad Ibrahim Khan, Allison Transmission Middle East Area Sales and OEMs account manager said the ‘Ride & Drive Experience’ event on the outskirts of Dubai was the latest venture in a longstanding global collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
“We are pleased to add value to the Mercedes-Benz Trucks vehicle range. Through this partnership, we look forward to jointly providing a reliable and powerful solution to customers in the market,” said Khan.
“When you consider harsh and demanding environments like off-road terrain or heavy start-stop operations, you want maximum power and vehicle control. Fully automatic transmissions will increase driver comfort, provide ease of operation and optimal manoeuvrability.”
The Atego 1726 A 4×4 was test driven on the off-road site. Built to be an able off-highway support vehicle in comes packed with a 6-cylinder in-line engine meeting Euro V emission norms, three mechanical differential locks, and has payload capacity of 11,700kg.
Allison Transmission and Mercedes-Benz Trucks said they have maintained a strong partnership in the region. The companies plan to further serve the region with the same dedication and relentless efforts.
According to Allison Transmission, the 3000 Series transmission is designed for medium-duty commercial vehicles and is engineered to adapt and operate efficiently in a variety of applications.
Fleets get a choice of close- or wide-ratio gearing and up to seven speeds. An engine-driven Power Take-Off (PTO) is an option, says Allison Transmission, as well as an integral output retarder that provides enhanced vehicle braking and reduces brake wear. Operation is further enhanced by Allison’s advanced electronic controls, which also have prognostics capabilities for greater performance insight.
Despite a minor technical hitch on the day, the truck performed admirably on the run and in typically hot and dusty conditions in and amongst the dunes.
The Mercedes-Benz Atego is a fully-fledged member of the product portfolio offered by Mercedes-Benz Trucks in the MENA region. It epitomises value, efficiency and dedication, say both manufacturers.
Driving a 4×4 Mercedes-Benz Atego 4×4 equipped with an Allison 3000 Series transmission provides uninterrupted power to the wheels and makes it easy for a driver to focus on their job, keeping both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, explained Olaf Petersen, general manager Mercedes-Benz and Fuso Trucks Sales.
“It is great to finally see the new development of the Allison 3000 Series built into our Atego 4×4 on the road, as this project was specifically developed for the needs of our customers in the MENA region,” said Petersen. “We see several special applications benefiting from this combination, from fire-fighting to off-road operations in our trucks.
“The fully automatic transmission with torque converter allows vehicle owners and drivers to work with high confidence. It relieves the driver from shifting activities, allowing them to fully concentrate on their driving. The risk for wrong shifting is out of question and uptime is increased offering a high benefit to the truck owner.”