Volvo’s I-Shift transmission turns 20, used on over a million trucks

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 11 Mar 2021


Volvo Trucks’ I-Shift intelligent automated manual transmission (AMT) innovation continues to be an important milestone in the industry, thanks to its positive impact on fuel consumption, vehicle performance, safety and driver comfort. By the end of 2020, more than one million Volvo Trucks around the world have been sold with I-Shift. This breakthrough powertrain technology is still being developed for future gains.

When I-Shift was first launched in 2001, Volvo Trucks confirmed its strong belief in a clutch-based transmission system as the most efficient design for automatic gear-changing. Since then, more than one million trucks have been sold globally with I-Shift technology. Today, all Volvo FH, FH16, FM and FMX trucks are fitted with I-Shift as standard. Being an automated system, I-Shift contributes to lower fuel consumption – and thereby reduced environmental impact – as well as improved safety and driveability benefits regarding reduced noise, vibrations and physical strain on the driver.

“I-Shift was and still is a major game-changer. Today we are selling the I-shift all over the world. In North America, we have increased from single-digit numbers in 2007 to now more than 90% of all Volvo trucks there being equipped with the I-shift. This impressive development clearly reflects both its increased efficiency and its driver appeal,” says Par Bergstrand, Heavy Duty Transmission manager at Volvo Trucks.

The front of the I-Shift Dual Clutch. Despite many new components, the new gearbox is just 12 cm longer than a regular I-Shift unit.

Developed by Volvo, I-Shift is fully synchronised with the rest of the truck since the transmission uses information available from both the engine and the vehicle to work together in the most optimum way for different usages and truck combinations.

“This synchronisation is what sets I-Shift apart and makes it so versatile. I-Shift is the positive result of many years of hard work by our skilled engineers, the feedback from customers in the field tests for the development process, and Volvo Trucks’ access to technological advances across the entire Volvo Group,” explains Bergstrand.

I-Shift’s success lies in its ability to work with the entire powertrain, since this transmission system is tailored to the engine and vehicle components already from the development phase. With continuous improvements over the years, I-Shift has been able to meet the demands of a wide range of transport applications, not only for high performance and efficiency but also for optimum driveability and comfort.

Over the years, Volvo Trucks has continued to pioneer numerous new intelligent functions that both drivers and hauliers have come to appreciate. Here are some examples of them.

I-Shift with dual clutch: In 2014 Volvo Trucks unveiled the I-Shift with Dual Clutch as a heavy-duty dual clutch, inspired by the gearboxes used in racing cars, and one that offered an instant and immediate feeling of seamless delivery of power during gear changes.

I-Shift with crawler gears: In 2016, to address heavy duty assignments that require extra torque and startability, Volvo introduced the I-Shift with Crawler gears, which allow a truck transporting a gross combination weight up to 325 tonnes to start from standstill on a flat road.

The gear ratio enables the truck to crawl at speeds as low as 0.5kph, which is beneficial when performing precision manoeuvres, for example on construction sites, when paving roads or when hauling timber.

I-See uses Cloud-based map data: I-See is a separate system that can be added to I-Shift, engineered to analyse route topography and use that knowledge to keep the truck in the most fuel-efficient gear. Updated in 2017, I-See supports the truck in maintaining a consistent average speed by analysing cloud-based map data about topography of the road ahead, telling I-Shift when it’s the optimum time to change gear in order to save energy, and thus fuel.

I-Shift with Change Direction function: The launch of Volvo Trucks’ new heavy-duty range in 2020 brought the introduction of another innovative function: I-Shift with Change Direction. This new function enables the truck to change direction without the driver needing to use the brake pedal, a feature particularly useful for construction, forestry and mining operations where it is more productive to perform repetitive manoeuvres back and forth at lower speed.

The latest generation of Volvo trucks also further reduces fuel consumption. For example, the new Volvo FH with I-Save technology – Volvo Trucks’ most fuel-efficient long-haul truck to date – cuts fuel consumption by up to 10 percent.