North America Truck Transmission Market

Digitization accelerates the penetration of AMT & AT

The truck transmission market in North America is gearing up (no
pun intended) for a major shift towards AMT & AT. Over the last
decade, advancement in software technology has led to an increase
in the adoption of Automated Manual Transmissions (AMT) and
Automatic Transmissions (AT). In the coming years, while manual
transmissions (MT) may fall further as a share of the total, the
market will see inroads from a new technology, reduction
transmissions, which will support rising numbers of
battery-electric trucks.

It was little over a decade ago that Eaton and Volvo launched
UltraShift AMT and I-Shift technologies respectively, in the
region. Since then, there have been several adopters of these
technologies as well as significant improvements in the offerings.
Mack started offering its mDrive AMT and Freighliner and Western
Star started Detroit DT 12 AMT in 2012. Modern AMTs are lighter,
more fuel-efficient, reliable and have longer maintenance intervals
than before. The Advanced shift management system makes use of
parameters such as vehicle speed, vehicle mass, engine torque etc.
to make precise gear shift decisions. Many of the advanced
technologies cannot be realized without the control of AMT, and one
of them uses GPS to predict road conditions and control optimum
driving mode to improve fuel efficiency. The automatic optimum
control of vehicle speed, engine speed and auxiliary brake
guarantees comfortable and safe eco-operation regardless of the
driver’s skill.

OEMs are reporting higher take-rates of AMTs in their new
linehaul model than ever before. As one reference, in 2021 about
92% of the new Volvo trucks are equipped with I-Shift AMT compared
to 75% in 2014. One of the two reasons for the increase in AMT is
the shortage of skilled drivers because the new generation of
drivers are more inclined towards AMTs as they have never used
stick transmission. AMT advantage is that it brings the new driver
up to the level of experienced driver because the system is doing
the shifting for them. The second reason is vertical integration,
in the last couple of years, OEMs are focusing on coupling engines
with the inhouse automated transmission. Recent is Paccar’s TX-18
automated transmission, a second transmission developed jointly
with Eaton and is available in Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks.

AT technology is becoming more intelligent as the year goes on.
ATs are becoming more precise in shifting than humans with the
advancement in software development. In the last couple of years,
we have seen an increase in AT in vocational trucks which were
previously dominated by MT. One of the advantages of AT is that it
has a smooth start and stop, which is suitable for vocational
trucks. And it is unlike AMT where one must replace a costly clutch
on occasion, thus reducing the maintenance cost of AT which uses a
torque converter during the launch. The AT ratio is growing in the
urban distribution truck segment which are most used by e-commerce,
logistics companies and have a high start/stop cycle in cities.

In 2017, AT covered about 91% of the market in the medium duty
segment. Share is expected to decline to about 84% by 2027, the
primary reason being the increase in battery electric and fuel cell
vehicles in the segment, which do not require an AT. In the
heavy-duty segment, the shift to AMT and AT is progressing. Some
61% market share will be AMT and 22% will be AT by 2027 whereas MT
market share is expected to decline to around 13%.

In the last decade, the trucks transmission market in North
America was dominated by Eaton, having more than 50% of the market
share in 2011, a majority of which was from MTs. In the last couple
of years, the heavy-duty truck transmission market has shifted
towards AMT and AT in North America, and this has been one of the
reasons for the decline in the market share of Eaton to about 38%
in 2017. It took a while to catch up but now AMTs are at the
forefront of the tractor truck market which replaced MT as the
standard option. Although AMTs have seen significant growth, ATs
have also made modest gains mostly in heavy-duty vocational class
trucks. Allison Transmission is one of the major manufacturers of
AT in North America having majority of market share in the medium
duty segment. In 2017, Allison had 13% market share in heavy-duty
segment which is expected to increase to about 19% by 2027.
Heavy-duty battery electric and fuel cell trucks are expected to
increase from 2025 onwards, leading the market share of Reduction
transmission to increase to about 4% by 2027. In 2017, Ford had a
share of 43% followed by Allison with 32% in the medium-duty
segment. Ford share is expected to decline to about 38% by 2027
owing to the increase in battery electric vehicles in the segment.
The number of TMs suitable for battery electric vehicles will
increase in the future, and technological trends continue to
attract attention as they improve battery electric vehicles
performance.

In the coming years MT will see significant decrease in market
share, but they will remain in the market at least a decade from
now. Although the MT share is narrowing down, Manuals may be needed
in certain vocational applications where the fleets have trucks
which are not used on regular basis or only if the fleet absolutely
need it. It is more like a scrollbar, offering fine control over
movements; we cannot say farewell to MTs just by pressing a
button.


This article was published by S&P Global Mobility and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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