New transmission cuts fuel usage

Allison Transmission recently introduced its new DynActive Shifting to its automatic transmission system, which significantly helped operators reduce fuel consumption, reports FVI. 

UK fleet operators achieve Diesel fuel savings of up to six per cent, worth more than £1,000 per truck per year. Some of Allison’s global customers have realised this improvement in fuel economy because of DynActive Shifting, a new feature integrated into Allison’s FuelSense 2.0 software, which is also available as an aftermarket product. The cost of retrofitting can pay back through fuel savings in just six to 12 months.   

Allison estimates that approximately 7,000 Euro VI Dennis Eagle, Leyland DAF and Mercedes-Benz vehicles registered between 2014 and 2018 in the UK could benefit from FuelSense 2.0. Together, this represents 27,000 tonnes per year per vehicle in carbon emission savings. Many of these vehicles are helping to deliver frontline services to local authorities, local authority contracting organisations, emergency services, construction companies, utilities, airports and transport operations.  

At the heart of DynActive Shifting is an intelligent algorithm that monitors, learns from, and responds to vehicle behaviour. This capability is a breakthrough because before now, gear-shift points had to be pre-programmed at fixed engine speeds. With FuelSense 2.0, these points were chosen from a table of options to give a desirable trade-off between fuel economy and performance according to vehicle-type and duty-cycle. Now, however, proprietary software enhancements enable an infinitely variable combination of shift points. This improvement means each vehicle’s gear-shifting strategy is automatically customised and continually refined as the truck moves along the road. DynActive Shifting assesses and responds to factors such as vehicle weight, road gradient, throttle use, and the frequency of stop-starts. To the driver, the alterations are invisible, but to the accounts department, the reduced expenditure on fuel costs would be evident on the balance sheet.  

FuelSense 2.0 with DynActive Shifting was tested internationally over more than three million miles on a wide variety of roads and in a broad range of vehicles and duty-cycles. Tests included refuse, construction and distribution trucks, as well as city and school buses.   

All three variations of FuelSense have 2.0 DynActive Shifting integrated, plus two new options which provide further incremental fuel savings. One of these options is the Plus Package, which adds Neutral-at-Stop technology. This choice reduces the load on the engine during low-speed coasting and when the vehicle stops, which in turn reduces engine heat, emissions, and fuel consumption by an additional one per cent. The other option, the Max Package, features customisable Acceleration Rate Management. This alternative mitigates aggressive driving by automatically controlling engine torque. Still, if the vehicle is unable to reach the pre-calibrated acceleration rate – for example, when carrying a heavy load or ascending a gradient – full engine torque is instantly made accessible. This additional method of automatically balancing performance and economy provides approximately one per cent more in fuel savings.  

Real-life results  

A trial with the Mercedes Econic RCVs owned by Fife Council returned an average of 8.85% fuel savings after being upgraded with FuelSense 2.0. Taking just one hour per software update per vehicle, Fife recovered the minimal cost in fuel savings in less than 15 weeks. The upgrade of 24 Fife Council Econics expects to cut the council’s expenditure on diesel by about £42,000 per year, and its CO2 emissions by almost 124 tonnes.  

 Fife Council’s fleet operations department realised the savings during a six-month, 21,000 km trial conducted from January to June 2019. As a result of the fuel economy improvements, Fife Council decided to retrofit another 11 RCVs with FuelSense 2.0 software and to order a further 11 RCVs, which arrived in December 2019.  

‘This trial has been a great partnership between Fife Council, Allison Transmission and Mercedes-Benz. As a result, we have strong data that shows how upgrading to the latest technology, proven on our vehicles and roads, can deliver better value for the tax-payers of Fife,’ said Sandy Anderson, Service Manager, Waste Operations at Fife Council. ‘Many fuel-saving claims are made from different corners of the industry, and we are happy to stand behind this significant 8.85% fuel economy improvement figure on switching to FuelSense 2.0 software. Our calculations show that the cost of the upgrade is paid back in fuel savings within 14.5 weeks.’