A ‘techie’ truck from Isuzu

Tetsuya Fujita, General Manager, Latin America & Caribbean International Sales Department Isuzu Motors Ltd. addressing the launch of the 2020 Isuzu N-Series Automated Manual Transmission truck.

Vehicles and Supplies Limited (VSL) brought some new technology to the light commercial vehicle segment when it unveiled the 2020 Isuzu N-Series truck equipped with the brand’s new Automated Manual Transmission (AMT).

The AMT technology takes the benefits of both a traditional gearbox, an automatic transmission and fuses them together. AMT equipped N-Series trucks have a manual gearbox. However, instead of using a clutch pedal mounted in the driver cabin footwell, it uses a computer controlled hydraulic actuator to engage the clutch by matching the throttle and engine speed for the gear required.

An Automated Manual Transmission N-Series truck uses a selector similar to that of a normal automatic transmission, but instead has a manual gearbox operated by an electro-hydraulic system.

Due to its operation, AMT trucks do not have three pedals like a traditional manual truck. It carries two, only the accelerator and brake. Shifting is handled by a centre consol-mounted selector as one would find in an automatic truck. Drivers can leave the vehicle in automatic, allowing it to shift as necessary, or place the lever in manual mode to choose whatever gear is wanted. There are also two other functions, economy and first start. Economy mode tells the AMT to shift earlier in the rev range to decrease fuel usage by 10 per cent. First start, locks the AMT in first gear for starts on inclines or if the vehicle is hauling a heavy load.

According to Tetsuya Fujita, general manager of Isuzu Motors Ltd’s Latin America & Caribbean International Sales Department, the main benefit of AMT is safety. It achieves that by removing the stress of operating a manual gearbox giving the driver more time to take in their surroundings and any potential hazards. AMT’s main advantage is most evident in stop-and-go urban traffic. AMT increases the potential driver pool as its ease of operation means those not familiar with manual transmissions can now drive the truck.

The N-Series is a popular choice on the local market due to its efficiency, power, and ability to be equipped to handle a wide variety of tasks, from basic cargo to more specialized jobs like waste management.

The benefits of AMT continue, delivering fuel economy close to the traditional manual version, lower maintenance costs, smoother operation, and a slightly lower price than an automatic transmission equipped N-Series.

— Article written by Nichola Beckford