Skyrocketing Volvo I-Shift Sales Spur U.S. Assembly
Caption: An employee at the Hagerstown, Md. powertrain facility assembles a Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission. Strong customer demand for Volvo’s proprietary transmission (below) played a significant role in the decision to assemble in the U.S.
Volvo Trucks celebrated the latest investment in the North American market today with the start of I-Shift production at the Hagerstown, Md. powertrain facility. Strong customer demand for Volvo’s automated manual transmission played a significant role in the decision to assemble in the U.S. The Volvo Group’s $8 million investment also brings 50 new jobs to the plant.
Sales of the I-Shift automated transmission have grown substantially since 2007, when Volvo became the first OEM to bring an integrated automated manual transmission to the North American market. With the I-Shift, Volvo was also the first to introduce innovative technologies including a grade sensor, Hill Start Assist, skip shifting and Eco-Roll™. The percentage of Volvo trucks sold with the company’s proprietary transmission hit a record level of more than 40 percent in 2011 and has continued to grow throughout 2012. Available exclusively with Volvo engines on VN model highway tractors, the I-Shift is now featured on nearly one of every two Volvo trucks now being built in North America
“This is an important addition to our North American production capabilities and highlights I-Shift’s tremendous growth since its introduction more than five years ago to the North American market,” said Ron Huibers, president, Volvo Trucks North American Sales & Marketing. “I-Shift has been a game-changer, providing Volvo customers clear fuel efficiency and productivity improvements. We’re glad to see the industry now adopting this type of technology.”
Volvo Trucks’ I-Shift transmission is central to its award-winning XE – exceptional fuel efficiency – powertrain package, which reduces fuel consumption by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed. In February, the Truck Writers of North America (TWNA) awarded Volvo’s XE13 – featuring the 13-liter Volvo D13 engine – powertrain package the 21st annual TWNA Technical Achievement Award. XE13 also received a 2012 Top 20 product award from Heavy Duty Trucking magazine. Volvo Trucks announced in April that the XE package would also be offered with the 16-liter Volvo D16 engine.
The $8 million Hagerstown investment includes creation of a new assembly line, installation of new equipment and tooling, and employee training. The new line increases the Volvo Group’s global transmission footprint and serves as the primary source for North America.
Volvo’s I-Shift transmissions were previously assembled in Köping, Sweden, and then sent to Hagerstown for adaptation to North American market requirements.