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Volvo Trucks’ I-Shift – Setting the Benchmark for 20 Years

16 March 2021

Volvo Trucks’ I-Shift intelligent automated manual transmission (AMT) innovation continues to be an important benchmark in the industry, thanks to its positive impact on fuel consumption, vehicle performance, safety, and driver comfort.

When I-Shift was first launched globally 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.

I-Shift was first introduced to the South African market in 2007, with the launch of the FH, FM and FMX version 3 ranges.

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.  In addition, it leads to 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. This impressive development clearly reflects both its increased efficiency and its driver appeal,” said Pär Bergstrand, Heavy Duty Transmission manager at Volvo Trucks.

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 applications and truck combinations.

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

And, looking ahead, the innovative developments certainly aren’t stopping here.

“I-Shift will continue to be improved for diesel trucks and it will also play an important role in our electromobility journey. As an advanced automation technology, I-Shift offers unique abilities to contribute to Volvo’s fully autonomous transport solutions of the future,” said Pär Bergstrand.

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

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

I-Shift with Crawler gears

Another significant step came in 2016, addressing extra heavy assignments that require extra torque and startability. I-Shift with Crawler gears allows 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 0.5 km/h, 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.

Unfortunately, this feature is not currently available on the Euro 3 variants offered in the South African market. It is a priority for Volvo Trucks SA to introduce it in the future.

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.

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