Ahead of attending Freight in the City Expo, Allison Transmission UK and Ireland account and market development manager Nathan Wilson was asked how the company helps urban vehicle fleets reduce their emissions, improve fuel economy, and operate in zero-emission zones as we head towards a future of  fossil-free transport.

As a word of introduction Nathan, what’s your role with Allison?

I spend a lot of time talking to truck OEMs and fleets all over the UK, from local authority refuse fleets to construction logistics providers, as well as those operating road sweepers, cranes and dump trucks.

Why should visitors to Freight in the City stop by the Allison stand and say hello?

Because it’s good to talk. As well as catching up with existing customers, we’re looking forward to meeting people whose fleets could be, but aren’t yet, benefiting from fully automatic transmissions. Allison has new transmissions and software available that can provide an affordable and genuinely impactful stepping-stone on the path to low- and no-carbon emissions with the bonus of reducing fuel and maintenance costs. Applications for which fleets have previously dismissed fully automatics as unsuitable for their needs, will find that the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) proposition has changed and it’s a good time to put Allison’s fully automatic transmissions back on the table for discussion. 

So what is Allison doing to make the current generation of diesel engines as clean as possible?

There are two main developments I’d like to focus on. The first is our FuelSense 2.0 software package, which features DynActive Shifting, an intelligent algorithm that continually monitors and adjusts gear-shifting strategy, taking into account such factors as vehicle weight, road gradient, the frequency of stop-starts and throttle use. To the driver the alterations are imperceptible, but in addition to the fuel savings already being made by FuelSense, this improves fuel consumption by up to 6% on transit buses and refuse trucks.

This software is standard on new Allison transmissions but we are also offering it as a quick and cost-effective retrofit solution, all while maintaining the traditional Allison advantages of quality, reliability, durability and vocational value.

The second development is our latest transmission family, named ‘xFE’ in recognition of its ability to deliver extra fuel economy. Designed specifically for the constant shifting and lower average speeds of many hard-working vehicles, this locks up the torque converter at lower speeds so that the engine spends more time in higher ranges and at lower rpm. xFE transmissions comfortably deliver up to 16% in additional fuel savings during real world testing carried out on buses in the UK, and for truck vocations, Allison claims a fuel savings of up to 3.7%.

A case study of FuelSense 2.0 was carried out by Fife Council and Allison Transmission in 2018. Mercedes Econic refuse vehicles were tested and delivered an unprecedented 8.85% improvement over the previous FuelSense software programme. Using the Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculator Tool (VECTO), simulations show that if xFE technology was specified, an improvement in fuel consumption of over 12.5% could be possible. That really adds up.

Is it true that we will see Allison’s electrification products on our roads before too long?

Yes. In addition to our fully automatics for diesel, natural gas and some fuel cell vehicles, I expect to be discussing Allison’s eGen Power range at the show – a new series of fully integrated electric axles designed to fit between the wheels of heavy-duty trucks and buses, replacing the vehicle’s traditional powertrain system. Our system is compatible with full battery electric vehicles (BEV), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) and range-extending hybrid applications, providing more power and torque than other e-powertrain systems.

Thanks to our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Emergency One, the UK’s market leader in the manufacture, service and support of fire and rescue vehicles, we will, in the near future, see the eGen Power 100D electric axle integrated into Emergency One’s fire rescue and emergency vehicle platform. Myself and my engineering colleagues are very pleased to be supporting that project in the UK. It will be the most convincing argument for our technology to be able to witness a heavy-duty, safety-critical, power-hungry fire appliance with all its complex requirements, operating without compromise.

In addition to fuel economy and emissions, are there any other reasons why fleets should consider using Allison’s fully automatic transmissions?

Plenty! Allison’s patented torque converter increases productivity during frequent stop-starts by providing exceptional startability and improved acceleration. And because there’s a torque converter rather than a dry clutch, there are no clutch failures, fewer maintenance requirements, longer service intervals, and more uptime.

Drivers love Allison fully automatic transmissions for their precise slow-speed controllability and manoeuvrability. On that topic, of course, fleets are increasingly keen to specify features that attract new, and retain older, drivers. The smoothness and ease of driving of an Allison is repeatedly the subject of positive feedback from drivers of vehicles equipped with Allison transmissions. In fact, in Korea, Coca-Cola is purchasing distribution trucks with Allison as standard due to driver demand – perhaps we will see a similar trend emerge here.

Visitors to Ally Pally on 28th September are welcome to quiz me about any or all of these things. 

  • Freight in the City Expo is a free-to-attend one-day event focused on best practice operation and latest technology for urban freight deliveries. It takes place on 28 September at London’s Alexandra Palace, so register today for your free pass.