Freightliner Offers Aisin Automatic Transmission Option

March 1, 1999
Freightliner Corporation introduced a new automatic transmission option for medium-duty trucks. Aisin automatic transmissions will become available in

Freightliner Corporation introduced a new automatic transmission option for medium-duty trucks. Aisin automatic transmissions will become available in Freightliner vehicles beginning in June 1999. Aisin transmissions are manufactured by Aisin Seiki Co Ltd of Japan and marketed in the US by Aisin World Corporation of America. The company supplies truck and automotive transmissions to DaimlerChrysler, Toyota and other major manufacturers.

Freightliner will source Aisin's A581 transmission. Targeted at medium-duty trucks and buses up to 33,000 lb gross vehicle weight, the A581 is rated up to 280 horsepower and 605 lb ft torque with maximum engine speed of 3500 rpm. It has full electronic controls for optimal shifting and performance.

The Aisin A581 incorporates a single-stage, three-element, two-phase torque converter with lock-up in second gear and higher. It has five forward and one reverse speeds, with 3.463 gear ratio in first, 2.024 in second, 1.476 in third, 1.000 in fourth, .807 in fifth, and 4.179 in reverse. The shift lever is located on the steering column.

The Aisin A581 operates in power and economy modes. Power mode provides enhanced performance for climbing steep grades and pulling heavy loads. Economy mode furnishes ample power and fuel economy for routine city and highway operations. A "limp" mode allows manual operation if required.

Aisin transmissions are known for their smooth-shifting and quiet, car-like performance, according to Mark Lampert, senior vice-president, sales and marketing. "Our test fleet drivers have given high marks to the Aisin automatic. They have been impressed with the A581's driveability, acceleration, and overall performance."

Weight-sensitive operators will like the A581's light weight, Lampert added. At 360 lb, it is 195 lb lighter than competitive automatic transmissions. The A581 is easy to maintain. No adjustments are necessary for the valve body, bands or filter. Freightliner-installed Aisin transmissions come with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty.

Freightliner plans to offer Aisin transmissions in the Freightliner Trucks Business Class FL50, FL60 and FL70, as well as in medium-duty chassis manufactured by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. These vehicles are used in a wide variety of applications, including local pickup and delivery, regional distribution, beverage delivery, and emergency service.

Initially, Aisin transmissions will be engineered for use with 195 to 230 hp Cummins ISB engines, but Freightliner later plans to offer the A581 with other engines, including Mercedes-Benz engines that are standard in Freightliner medium-duty trucks.

Aisin transmissions will help Freightliner meet strong demand for automatic transmissions in the company's medium-duty trucks, Lampert said. By offering the Aisin A581 as an option, Freightliner hopes to speed delivery of trucks specified with automatic transmissions."

Freightliner has made significant gains in the Class 3-7 truck market in the past three years and now holds the number-two market share position in Class 6-7. The corporation sold 27,372 medium-duty trucks and chassis in 1998.

Aisin World Corporation of America, Downers Grove, Illinois, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aisin Seiki Co Ltd and its group companies in Japan. Aisin Seiki Co, an affiliate of Toyota Motor, manufactures transmissions, brakes, clutches, water pumps, and other automotive parts. Its 1998 revenues exceeded $7 billion.

Freightliner Trucks Unveils Mercedes-Benz Power-

The MBE900 Medium-Duty Diesel Engine

Freightliner Corporation introduced Mercedes-Benz Power for medium-duty trucks at its dealer meeting in Orlando, Florida. The MBE900 family of mid-range diesel engines combines advanced electronic controls, sophisticated fuel injection and extended maintenance cycles to provide the ideal solution for medium-duty vehicleoperators, said Freightliner President and CEO James L. Hebe.

Freightliner will offer two displacements and numerous ratings for the MBE900. A 6.4-liter, in-line, 6-cylinder engine us available immediately. A 4.3-liter, in-line 4-cylinder version will be available later in the year. The 6-cylinder is rated from 190 to 300 horsepower with peak torque of 860 lb-ft at 1250 rpm. The 4-cylinder offers ratings from 150 to 190 hp with up to 520 lb-ft torque.

According to Mark Lampert, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, Freightliner Trucks, the MBE900 engine is the perfect choice for the Freightliner Business Class. Ranging from 18,000 to over 33,000 lb gross vehicle weight, Business Class trucks work in local and regional distribution, beverage delivery, food distribution, agriculture, utility/construction, refuse/recycling, towing and emergency service and numerous other vocational applications.

Expected life to major overhaul of the MBE900 is 500,000 miles, based on normal usage. Shop time is minimized because of a number of long-life features. Molded rubber gaskets fit into integrated, machined channels for leak-proof joints. A unique engine gasket design also maintains a tight seal. An internal engine oil cooler keeps lubricant temperatures low, leading to longer bearing and component life, while an automatic tensioning system means belts won't loosen aver time.

Preventive maintenance is reduced with the MBE900. Oil and filter change intervals extend to 20,000 miles (15,000 miles for stop-and-go applications). PM service is quick and simple. Oil and fuel filters are mounted up front and easily accessible from the top of the engine. Injection pumps are individually replaceable, reducing maintenance costs and time.

The MBE900 delivers outstanding performance, said Lampert. With a competitive power-to-weight ratio, high torque levels at lower rpms and peak torque in a broad range from 1100 to 1800 rpm, it provides good low end driving power. That means better hill-climbing and fewer gear shifts in city traffic.

The turbo charger, wastegated on high horsepower engines, responds to control inputs quickly for excellent acceleration. The electronic throttle pedal allows precise control with minimal effort. Torque curves are shaped for optimal performance with automatic transmissions. Cold startability is excellent, Lampert said.

The MBE900 provides a high level of efficiency, due in part to its unique fuel injection system. Each injection pump is individually controlled, allowing for precise fuel delivery. This results in more power, better fuel economy, and less emissions. The MBE900 meets applicable EPA/CARB requirements with no additions required.

Other innovative features contributing to engine efficiency include a gear-driven air compressor with 50% lower power consumption than other air compressors. A 24-inch cooling fan has lower power requirements than competitive 26-inch fans, with similar benefits, said Lampert.

The MBE900 idles at 600 rpm-less than competitive engines-meaning quieter operation and less fuel consumption when idling. Tying everything together is the MBE900's electronic control system. This network of sensors and controls assures precise fuel injection and optimal engine operation over time. Electronic controls also perform tasks such as monitoring the engine for potential problems, optimizing engine cooling, and automatically adjusting operating characteristics for high altitude performance.

If the engine has idled too long, the MBE900's electronic bran will turn it off to save fuel. Likewise, if it senses a loss of oil pressure or severe rise in coolant temperature, it will shut down the engine to avoid damage. By plugging into the MBE900's electronic control unit, Freightliner's ServiceLink system can access diagnostic and fault information.

Fleets can program the engine to limit top vehicle speed or to optimize operations for maximum fuel efficiency. The MBE900's electrical system communicates using both the J1587 and J1939 standards for compatibility with other vehicle electronicsystems.

Freightliner CEO Hebe said the arrival of the MBE900 engine marks the beginning of a "new component sourcing strategy as we seek greater synergies and economies of scale with our parent company." DaimlerChrysler's Powertrain Business Unit is based in Stuttgart, Germany. The company sold over 200,000 engines worldwide in 1998.