An introduction to the automated manual transmission
When shopping around for a truck you’re ultimately going to be faced with a raft of different transmission options to choose from.
In our last transmission blog, we took a look at the meteoric rise of two pedal trucks since 2005, with the latter surpassing the more traditional manual operation in 2015, particularly in the Japanese product offerings currently on the Australian market.
In the trucking world, this trend is predominantly the result of operators demanding greater ‘ease of operation’ and flexibility when it comes to the skill level of drivers getting behind the wheel.
Depending on the application at hand and the manufacturer’s product, truck consumers will generally have the option of a traditional manual transmission, a fully automatic transmission or an automated manual transmission.
This blog focuses on the automated manual transmission or AMT.
What is an AMT?
Technically speaking, an AMT is a ‘tweaked’ manual transmission, which has done away with the need to engage a clutch pedal at the same time as shifting gears.
To be clear, an AMT equipped truck is operated with two pedals only – a brake and an accelerator pedal – as opposed to the three pedal operation of a truck specified with a manual transmission.
This explanation video offers an introduction to AMTs and how to use them correctly.
How does it work?
Instead of the driver physically engaging the clutch to change gears, this action is controlled by electronic computers and hydraulics.
This system automatically operates the clutch and throttle to match revs and engage the clutch for the gear change that’s required.
How is an AMT different to a ‘full’ automatic transmission?
There are some superficial similarities between an AMT and a full automatic transmission when it comes to the way in which the vehicle is operated.
Many AMTs operate in a ‘fully automatic’ mode where the driver does not need to change gears at all – same as an automatic.
Although, the major point of difference is that some AMTs can be operated in ‘manual mode’ too, where drivers are able to shift up and down without the need for a clutch pedal.
Will an AMT work for me?
There are quite a few factors to take on board before making the decision that an AMT is the way to go.
First and foremost, you must consider the task your truck will be performing the majority of the time and under which conditions it will be operating.
From this starting point, it’s useful to work through a checklist to determine whether an AMT will produce the result you’re after, or if another alternative is perhaps better suited.
Our recent blog ‘Trucking’s Oldest Debate: Manual or Automatic?’ took into account all of these factors and is a great place to start thinking about the priorities applicable to you and your operation.
Some points to consider:
- AMTs are typically described as having all the driving ease of an automatic system with the durability and reliability of a manual transmission, so, in short, the ‘best of both worlds’
- AMTs are considered to have comparable fuel consumption to a manual transmission, making them more efficient than an auto
- From a servicing standpoint, there’s no clutch maintenance to deal with and less fluid to replace at servicing intervals, equating to greater overall savings
- AMTs can (in some cases) provide greater towing capacity with increased GCM (Gross Combination Mass) over a similar class of truck with an automatic transmission
- An AMT can legally be driven with an automatic car license if GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) is 4.5 tonnes or less
- Many AMT set-ups now come with an ‘economy mode’ selection which optimises fuel efficiency by shifting gears at a lower RPM (revolutions per minute) and allowing the engine to operate in its torque band more often
These factors, and an AMT’s unique balance of control and ease of driving, mean that this type of transmission is likely to continue to grow in popularity during the coming years.
When choosing your truck’s transmission, do you go for the performance of a manual or the ease of an auto? With Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) in Isuzu’s Intelligent Truck, you can have the best of both worlds.