MOUNT VERNON, WA. PACCAR Inc. unveiled its new automated transmission on Aug. 22, which will be offered in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks starting in October.

The new 12-speed transmission had been the missing piece “for our customers to complete our integrated powertrain” that includes the MX-13 and MX-11 engines, as well as PACCAR front and rear axles, said Landon Sproull, PACCAR’s vice president for powertrain. 

Sproull spoke during a press conference and ride-and-drive event at the PACCAR Technical Center that included executives from Kenworth and Peterbilt, PACCAR's two North American truck manufacturing divisions.

The executives said the automated transmission is designed for line-haul applications up to 110,000 lbs. gross vehicle weight. It is available for engine ratings up to 510 HP and 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque.

They said it the lightest heavy-duty transmission for on-highway commercial vehicles at 657 lbs., which will further spark the transition to automated transmissions, already accounting for about 70% of Peterbilt and Kenworth on-highway orders.

This new integrated powertrain will be “the new for normal for line-haul customers,” with orders projected to reach 90% by 2020, said Mike Dozier, general manager of Kenworth Truck Co.

Kyle Quinn, general manager of Peterbilt Motors Co., said customers will benefit from the almost 400 lbs. of total powertrain weight savings, offering higher fuel economy along with greater reliability.

The continued popularity of automated transmissions was recently noted by truckload carrier Schneider, which announced it had passed the halfway mark in its fleet-wide implementation of automated transmissions.

The PACCAR transmission was built from the ground-up as an automated, rather than a converted manual transmission as many competitors have done, the executives said.

It was designed in close conjunction with Eaton Corp. over a three-year development period. It will be manufactured at a plant in Mexico. 

A new column-mounted shifter provides gear selection and engine brake controls at the driver’s fingertips, which the companies said helps improve driver performance and satisfaction.

Another feature is a 750,000-mile oil change interval that PACCAR said it the longest available for line-haul applications.

The transmission comes with a five-year, 750,000-mile warranty. It has already been tested for about 2 million miles.

The ride-and-drive allowed journalists to test out features such as “urged to move” and “creep” modes, as well as easier driving in reverse.