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Volvo Launches I-Shift with Crawler Gears

Volvo Trucks has introduced a new member to the I-Shift family: I-Shift with crawler gears. The new gears, which are added to the vehicle’s automated transmission, provide specialised start capability for trucks carrying heavy loads in demanding situations.

The system is entirely unique for series-produced extra heavy trucks.  Volvo Trucks’ new version of I-Shift makes it possible to add up to two new crawler gears, resulting, among other things, the ability start-off from standstill and transport a gross combination weight (GCW) of up to 325 tonnes.

“I-Shift with crawler gears offers entirely new scope for extra heavy trucks with automated transmission to regulate their speed when crawling slowly and even reversing…”

“I-Shift with crawler gears offers entirely new scope for extra heavy trucks with automated transmission to regulate their speed when crawling slowly and even reversing. The driver can haul a heavy load without worrying about getting into situations that may lead to costly standstills,” said Malcolm Gush, Sales Director at Volvo Trucks South Africa.

“This new technology will also be available in South Africa where extreme road and weather conditions often have a big impact on a fleet’s productivity, safety and profitability.”

With the new crawler gears, the truck can drive at speeds as low as 0.5 to 2 km/h. This helps immensely during precision manoeuvres such as in construction and maintenance tasks.

“The vastly improved driveability and starting capability with the new crawler gears makes the driver’s job far easier when operating in difficult terrain on slippery surfaces with heavy loads, such as at construction sites, in mines or in forests. The heavier the transport operation and the poorer the surface or the terrain, the more the driver gains from a truck with crawler gears,” explained Gush.

For haulage firms carrying out heavy transport operations on demanding surfaces as well as regular highway driving, crawler gears also offer considerable flexibility and the possibility of improved fuel economy.

I-Shift with Crawler Gears

“I-Shift with crawler gears makes it possible to start-off from standstill in extreme situations. Combining them with a suitable rear axle ratio that optimises engine revs at high speeds results in lower fuel consumption on the highway. This is a significant benefit to haulage firms operating in these scenarios,” said Gush.

Depending on application area, I-Shift is available with one or two forward crawler gears, and with or without two reverse crawler gears. Reverse crawler gears make it possible to reverse extremely slowly, which is a major advantage when reversing manoeuvres require immense precision.

Facts, I-Shift with Crawler Gears

  • I-Shift with crawler gears is a further development of Volvo Trucks’ I-Shift automated transmission.
  • The new version of I-Shift has been specially developed for excellent starting capability and for driving at particularly low speeds.
  • I-Shift with crawler gears can allow driving as slowly as 0.5-2 km/h and can handle starts from a standstill with a gross combination weight of up to 325 tonnes, which is unique for series-produced trucks with automated gearboxes.
  • The transmission is available as either a direct-drive or overdrive gearbox with one or two crawler ratios. It is also possible to specify two reversing crawler ratios.
  • The low crawler gears are integrated into the I-Shift transmission. In order to handle the high loads involved, several components are made of high-strength materials. The gearbox is 12 cm longer than a conventional I-Shift unit. I-Shift with crawler gears is available for Volvo Trucks’ 13- and 16-litre engines in the Volvo FM, Volvo FMX, Volvo FH and Volvo FH16.

Volvo Truck with I-Shift gears

About I-Shift

  • All the models on the FH, FM and FMX ranges utilise Volvo’s I-Shift 12-speed automated mechanical gearbox without a clutch pedal.
  • Locally, it comes standard with special software packages that have been designed for each specific industry segment to save fleet owners fuel costs.

Ratios, I-Shift with crawler gears

  • In a gearbox with one crawler gear the ratio is 19:1 in a direct-drive gearbox, or 17:1 in an overdrive gearbox. (The ratio of the lowest gear in a regular I-Shift direct-drive gearbox is 15:1.) In a direct-drive or an overdrive gearbox with two crawler gears the lowest ratio is 32:1.
  • The ratio of the lowest reverse gear is 37:1 in a direct-drive gearbox.


Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa