Volvo Trucks celebrated the latest investment in the North American market recently 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 United States. 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 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% 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.
The I-Shift transmission is central to its XE — exceptional fuel efficiency — powertrain package, which reduces fuel consumption by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed. 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.