Volvo shows off new gearbox by pulling 750 tonnes from standstill

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Volvo's FH16 pulled 750 tonnes to show off its new crawler gear system

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Dual-clutch gearboxes are fitted to everything from family wagons to world-crushing Bugattis in cars, but haven't had quite the same impact in the trucking world. Having launched its I-Shift dual-clutch gearbox in 2014, Volvo has now added crawler gears to the system in an attempt to broaden its appeal. Unsatisfied with a traditional launch, the company has shown off the transmission by pulling a 750-tonne load from standstill.

Rather than using a specially built truck to handle the 20-trailer, 40-shipping container load, Volvo lined up in an FH16 with a factory-spec drivetrain, axles and gearbox. Designed to make life easier for drivers tackling slippery surfaces with heavy loads, the crawler system allows trucks to maintain speeds between 0.5 and 2 km/h (0.3 - 1.2 mph).

Because they're coupled with the regular gear ratios in the dual-clutch gearbox, there's no real disadvantage once you've got your heavy load up to speed. Even fuel economy is unchanged, although the gearbox is 12 cm (4.7 in) longer than a regular unit.

Driven by former "World's Strongest Man" title holder, Magnus Samuelsson, the truck hauled its load 100 m (328 ft) in Gothenburg with trucking journalist Brian Weatherley in the passenger seat. Weatherley was impressed by the feat, arguing he'd "never seen anything like it" during his time in the industry.

I-Shift with crawler gears can be combined with 13- or 16-liter engines across Volvo's range. Although the truck in Volvo's promotional stunt pulled 750 tonnes (827 tons), equivalent to 150 adult elephants or four Boeing 747s, the gearbox and driveline are rated to 325 tonnes (358 tons) for regular use.

A video of the attempt, complete with excitable voiceover and dramatic music, is below.

Source: Volvo

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