Here’s the presser:

“LAS VEGAS (Feb. 3, 2015) – As further evidence of Mack’s commitment to application excellence, Mack Trucks today unveiled a heavy-duty version of its game-changing Mack® mDRIVE™ automated manual transmission. The mDRIVE HD will be available as standard equipment on orders as of March in the rugged Mack Granite® model, offering improved performance for demanding on- and off-road applications.

Mack made the announcement during World of Concrete 2015 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“Our construction customers told us they wanted a heavy-duty version of the mDRIVE designed specifically to handle rough jobs in tough conditions,” said Stephen Roy, president of Mack Trucks North American Sales and Marketing. “We listened to them and developed a reinforced rugged transmission that will help our customers deliver power, performance, enhanced durability and improved driver satisfaction in a time when the industry is experiencing a driver shortage.”

The mDRIVE HD is designed and engineered to work exclusively with Mack MP7® and Mack MP8® engines. The 12-speed mDRIVE HD has an automated clutch, so no clutch pedal is required. Operation of the transmission is controlled through a dash-mounted shift pad by selecting drive, neutral or reverse. For more demanding jobsite maneuvers, the premium shift pad can be operated manually to hold a gear, downshift or upshift.

Available in overdrive and direct drive, the mDRIVE HD continuously monitors changes in grade (both up and down), vehicle speed, throttle position, acceleration, torque demand and gross vehicle weight. It automatically chooses the best gear for the road condition, allowing drivers to focus on the terrain rather than shifting gears, increasing safety on worksites.

The mDRIVE HD is based on the innovative design of the standard-duty mDRIVE, a proven performer that Mack made standard in the Mack Pinnacle™ model in October 2014. Compared to conventional automatic transmissions, the mDRIVE HD requires less service, significantly reducing maintenance needs.

In the event the mDRIVE HD does require attention, the transmission can be serviced at any Mack dealer, eliminating the additional time and hassle of visiting a third party service location. In addition, the mDRIVE HD is supported by Mack’s Uptime services, which reduce downtime and maximize productivity through real-time monitoring and proactive repair scheduling.

Key features of the mDRIVE HD include:

The mDRIVE HD is lightweight. Including transmission oil, the mDRIVE HD is up to 237 pounds lighter than other transmission offerings, enabling customers to haul even more payload.
It features reinforced internal components. With stronger gears and synchros, the mDRIVE HD is built to withstand more frequent shifting that is often needed in construction applications.
The mDRIVE HD uses a transmission-mounted oil cooler. The mDRIVE HD’s oil cooler helps maintain an optimal operating temperature, despite repeated, heat-generating shifts common on a jobsite.
Unique software packages, specific to the customer application, are available with the mDRIVE HD. The “Enhanced Construction” package provides optimal on/off-road capability and gives the driver full control over any terrain. “EZ Shift” delivers smoother shifts for sensitive payloads like livestock or bulk liquids.
The mDRIVE HD offers a Rock Free feature. Should the vehicle become stuck, this feature allows the driver to rock the truck back and forth simply by pumping the accelerator.
It features Grade Gripper. Working with the truck’s ABS system, Grade Gripper allows the vehicle to momentarily hold a hill, giving the driver time to move their foot from the brake to the accelerator pedal without rolling backward.
The mDRIVE HD will be available for order in March. For more information about the mDRIVE HD, please visit Mack booth No. C-5203 at the World of Concrete 2015 Feb. 3-6 in the Las Vegas Convention Center or contact your local Mack dealer. An online video highlighting the mDRIVE HD and its features is also available by clicking here.”

As always, the real meaning is between the lines: Volvo is so determined to stick buyers with their so-so automated manual transmission that they’re not just going to make it a questionable option in their construction market Granite truck, they’re making it standard equipment! Now all of this would be fine and dandy if said Volvo automated manual was up to the job… Which it probably ain’t. If Volvo had the humility to pick the brains of Mack’s retired engineers, they’d have found that they’d designed a transmission with some super low low granny gears so cement mixers and dump trucks could creep along at not even a walking pace. They did that not to cope with slow parades, but to do things their customers demand their mixers and dumps do, like creep along while chuting concrete to pour curbs or spreading gravel to make a smooth driveway. Those super low gears were pretty much a Mack exclusive, and sold a lot of Macks over the years. Try doing that with an automated manual like Volvo’s with gearing more suited for the interstate and you’ll soon have a cooked clutch!

That’s just the beginning of the problems with Volvo’s misapplication of their highway transmission… Mack’s own transmission sports triple countershafts and will be just be getting broken in by the time Volvo’s single countershaft box is shipped off to the Volvo mothership for an expensive rebuild or replacement. Yup, there’s no service parts available. While awaiting that inevitability, this Mack/Volvo will be delayed every time the transmission thinks it’s time to upshift, only to get bogged down as the upgrade steepens or the mud deepens, unless the buyers paid extra to have the “up” and “down” shift buttons activated. Meanwhile an old Mack truck passes, it’s Maxidyne engine producing power over such a wide range that shifts are seldom necessary. If it’s old Maxitorque transmission ever does wear out, they usually outlast the truck so a used one might cost less that just the shipping on Volvo’s automated wonder box.

And one more thing, Volvo: You might want to tell your agency of record to use a font and layout that won’t be mistaken for this freebee one… Just think what fun a creative blogger could have on April 1st!