TWO-PEDAL TRUCKS TALK TO AUSTRALIAN MARKET
The move away from stick-shift manual transmissions is no secret to the Australian truck market.
This year alone, over 80 per cent of all car driver’s licence truck models sold (up to 4,500 kg GVM) have been specified with a two-pedal automatic or automated manual transmission (AMT).
The trend continues right across the GVM spectrum—a stark comparison to around 10 years ago in 2012-13 when 50 per cent of all trucks sold were specified with a manual transmission.
Beyond ease of use and fuel economy, Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) national sales manager Les Spaltman noted this trend points to some intriguing factors within the Australian road transport industry.
“Uptime and the efficient application of equipment is something Aussie businesses do really well, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the decision to specify a two-pedal transmission on a new truck,” Mr Spaltman said.
The numbers don’t lie
Unpacked further, productivity, whole of life costs and most strikingly, labour retention, come under the microscope for businesses considering a truck purchase, particularly those running medium to large-sized fleets.
Isuzu’s recently released Future of Trucking Report: The Road Ahead—the largest research study of its kind ever undertaken in Australia—confirms Australian truck buyers and business owners are maintaining a keen eye on these factors.
“We surveyed over 1,000 road transport operators from all over the country and the findings threw up some intriguing insights into the changing needs of the Australian truck buyer,” Mr Spaltman said.
“Our research shows a direct tie between the retention of labour and changing buying behaviours.
“This was particularly evident in the choice of transmission in a bid to attract and retain talent, particularly drivers—an issue that has plagued the industry since the early 90s.
“While businesses are accessing a broader labour pool, they are also moving towards new, two-pedal trucks across the GVM range to support this.
“As an original equipment manufacturer, Isuzu has long led the way in Australia, with arguably the broadest range of two-pedal trucks available to local road transport operators for many years.”
Two pedal heaven
With the most two-pedal options available across the widest range of models on the Australian truck market, it’s safe to say Isuzu Trucks is well-versed in the transmission requirements for Australian road transport businesses.
A pioneer of AMT truck technology in 2005, today, Isuzu’s most advanced iteration of this transmission is its 3rd Generation AMT with torque converter (TC-AMT).
Representing over a decade of development and refinement, the Australian variant of TC-AMT has been designed specifically for local conditions.
The result for the driver (regardless of experience level) is a clever, instinctive drive, offering smooth gear changes and a car-like experience at the wheel—from the nimble car-license N Series to Isuzu’s fit-for-purpose medium-duty F Series models.
This is a particular boon in urban settings. Isuzu’s TC-AMT provides a torque multiplication factor of 1.5 times, producing a superior response from a standing start.
It also offers better acceleration at lower speeds, making it ideal for drivers dealing regularly with stop-start traffic.
Other features, such as the kick-down detent on the accelerator pedal and the ‘P’ position shift lever, which engages a parking pawl, have been developed specifically for the Australian market, local road situations and ease of use for a varied driver workforce.
Well-targeted Allison autos
Moving to the top-end of the medium-duty F Series range, the ubiquitous Allison automatic transmissions take centre stage.
Isuzu has long been regarded for the seamless integration of industry benchmark componentry into its medium- and heavy-duty model ranges, and Allison transmissions are a standout example.
Featured across the medium- and heavy-duty GVM range—from 260HP 12- and 14-tonne FSR/D models right through to the FYX 350-350 10×4—Isuzu recognises the premium performance that Allison automatic transmissions offers operators in tough environments.
Access all drivers
With a proud history engineering application specific trucks for Australian operators, Mr Spaltman noted the brand keeps a keen eye on changing trends and industry issues.
“Our road transport industry employs a varied workforce, but as we know too well, labour and skills shortages are as real as they are persistent,” he said.
“It may be a matter of preference for some buyers but we know prioritisation of fit-for-purpose, two-pedal trucks is going some way towards helping attract and retain a driving workforce.
“As an OEM, we will continue to answer the needs of a broad range of customers in addressing industry issues such as this.”