Automatic Transmissions in Trucking

by | Feb 8, 2018 | Company News

Automatic Transmissions are transitioning into the trucking industry and they are here to stay. Many truck drivers have shown resistance to automatic transmissions for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons include performance/reliability issues and the perception that they take away control from drivers.

The fundamental difference between automatic transmissions and manual transmissions are the gearboxes. An automated manual transmission (AMT) combines a traditional clutch-actuated manual gearbox with a computer-controlled shift actuator and clutch, while manual transmissions rely on the driver to control the shift and clutch.

Today, performance issues are being resolved because engines and transmissions are sharing more data than ever. In fact, the pros of driving an automatic truck now outweigh the cons. Fuel economy is now as good or sometimes even better than a manual transmission. Automatic transmissions do not require a driver to perfect a unique skill set. This enables drivers with less experience on the road to be as productive as veteran drivers. Lastly, automatic transmissions reduce driver fatigue due to the absence of manual gear shifting. Less driver fatigue correlates to safer driving conditions for all drivers on the road.


The automatic transmission trend is not only popular within Crete Carrier, but a large percentage of the entire industry is gravitating toward automatic transmissions. Currently, Crete Carrier has both manual and automatic transmission tractors. We plan to transition most of the fleet to automatics by the end of 2020.

This year Crete Carrier ordered close to 1,200 automatic trucks to add to the fleet. The trucks are expected to be on the road by late September of this year and will bring the fleet to 50 percent automatic trucks and 50 percent ten-speed trucks. As of February 2018, Crete Carrier offers manual 10 speed transmissions, automatic 12 speed transmissions, and automatic 10 speed transmissions in our trucks.

For newer drivers, automatic transmissions are a welcomed change. Many younger drivers have never even driven a car with a manual transmission, let alone a truck. This statistic represents an alarmingly high percentage of prospect drivers who lack basic familiarity with manual transmissions. As the industry’s driver demographic is changing, older drivers are retiring and younger drivers are replacing them. It is pertinent to our success as a company to adjust our capabilities to parallel the ever-changing industry.