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Meritor's SureShift(TM) Transmission Simplifies Shifting Through the Latest Shift-By-Wire Technology

18 March 1998

Meritor's SureShift(TM) Transmission Simplifies Shifting Through the Latest Shift-By-Wire Technology

                  New component fulfills drivers' wishes ...

    LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 17 -- Meritor Automotive, Inc.
has announced the availability of its new "shift-by-wire" system
--  the SureShift(TM) transmission -- that dramatically increases the ease and
comfort of safely shifting a non-synchronized manual transmission.  Providing
drivers an ergonomic advantage over comparable products, this advanced shift
system was introduced today during a Meritor press event at the Mid-America
Trucking Show.
    The SureShift transmission will be available this spring in limited
production, and in full production this fall, as optional equipment through
all North American truck OEMs when spec'd with any 9- or 10-speed Meritor
transmission, it is compatible with any electronically-controlled engine.
Meritor will also continue selling its Engine Synchro Shift(TM) (ESS(TM))
system as a lower cost alternative to the SureShift transmission.
    "The new SureShift system underscores our commitment to be the leading
developer of quality drivetrain systems and technology solutions worldwide,"
said Prakash Mulchandani, president of Meritor's Heavy Vehicle Systems
business.  "We continue to introduce new innovations to boost efficiencies and
make drivers' lives easier.
    "We designed this new technology after identifying a need to dramatically
reduce shifting effort and complexity while keeping the driver in control,"
Mulchandani added.  "We believe the SureShift system will make a major impact
in the trucking industry."

    Automatic Ease, Manual Control
    This new shift system, developed in collaboration with WABCO*, offers the
ease of an automated transmission, but keeps manual control at the driver's
fingertips -- a feature that drivers want, according to Rick Martello, general
manager of Meritor's Transmission, Clutch and Driveline business.
    "Our research reveals that truck operators, whether novice or seasoned
veterans, prefer having control over what gear the vehicle is in -- especially
when driving in difficult or hazardous conditions," Martello said.  "The
SureShift system allows the driver to retain complete control while virtually
eliminating the possibility of mis-shifts."
    SureShift technology prevents improper shifting by making it virtually
impossible for drivers to make a shift that would over-rev or excessively lug
the engine, Martello explained.  If the operator selects a gear that would
over-rev or lug the engine, the system simply responds with a "beep."  The
beep indicates an improper shift and allows the driver to make a correction.
    In addition, drivers who are accustomed to "skipping" gears can safely do
so by using a unique function button located on the joystick.
    The new shift system can also impact a fleet's bottom line in several
ways, including:
    --  Value-based pricing.  The SureShift system will be priced more
economically than more complex automatic transmissions, and will be priced
very competitively with other shift-by-wire products;
    --  Reduced training costs.  Truck operators can save money by reducing
the costs associated with training novice drivers on how to properly shift a
manual transmission -- which has traditionally been one of the more
challenging steps in learning how to drive a heavy truck; and
    --  Ease-of-use.  The new system enables the least experienced drivers to
shift as well as the veterans.  This can significantly reduce costs a fleet
must pay for drivetrain damage caused by mis-shifting.

    As Simple as Back-and-Forth
    Ease of operation was a primary design requirement.  The result: the
driver simply pushes a joystick forward for upshifts and pulls back for
downshifts.  A dash-mounted display indicates the appropriate time to upshift,
downshift or "skip" a shift.  Clutch actuation is only required for starts and
stops, which further reduces the driver's workload.
    The system relies on a unique X-Y actuator, bolted onto the transmission
case in place of a conventional shift lever.  The X-Y actuator is linked
directly into the transmission control unit, which in turn is connected to the
engine control unit, the shift module, the speed sensor on the transmission
and the range shift solenoids.
    The process begins when the driver signals a shift by pushing on the
joystick.  The system's electronic control unit (ECU) reads this signal and
tells the engine controller to synchronize engine RPM for the next shift.  The
X-Y actuator then takes over to make a quick, accurate shift.
    "Technicians need specialized training to maintain and repair the typical
automatic transmission," Martello said.  "By integrating SureShift technology
into a manual transmission, Meritor helps fleets avoid the extra costs of this
    According to the company, an electric-over-air system helps increase
vehicle uptime since it replaces the pneumatic slave valve, which has
traditionally posed problems in heavy-duty manual transmissions from
contamination by dirty air.

    Ergonomic Advantage Maximizes Driver Comfort
    Another key feature that sets the SureShift system apart from other shift-
by-wire products is its unique ergonomic design, according to Martello.
"We've made the system's shift module integral to the seat so that it
comfortably moves with the driver," he said.
    This design also allows drivers to fold the shift module down and out of
the way when not in use for easy access to the rest of the cab.
    The SureShift can system also eliminates the conventional "H" shift
pattern.  Drivers can easily upshift and downshift with a simple flick of the
wrist, which can dramatically reduce wrist stress and strain.  And, by
eliminating the traditional gear shift lever and resulting hole in the
floorboard, the system can reduce cab noise.
    "Just one drive in a vehicle equipped with our SureShift can transmission
will make any driver a believer ... a believer in sure, safe shifts every
time," Martello said.
    Meritor's new shifting technology further demonstrates the company's
commitment to providing the most advanced shift systems.  The SureShift system
follows the successful launches of the Shift-n-Cruise(R) and ESS systems.  The
ESS system eases transmission shifting by automatically synchronizing engine
RPM to road speed during transmission shifts and helps drivers shift from one
gear to the next without having to "feel" for proper synchronization.  ESS
technology has gained widespread industry acceptance since its introduction in
May 1996.
    New model nomenclature for the SureShift transmission is being
established.  For example, model number MO-16F10C-S16 represents a 10-speed,
C-ratio, overdrive transmission with 1,650 lb-ft torque capacity equipped with
the SureShift system.
    The systems are manufactured at the company's Laurinburg, N.C., facility
with aftermarket parts available from Meritor's Aftermarket Services
distribution facilities in Florence, Ky., and Brampton, Ontario and through
all OEM parts distribution centers.
    Meritor, with 1997 sales of $3.3 billion, is a global supplier of a broad
range of components and systems for commercial, specialty and light vehicles.
Meritor consists of two businesses:  Heavy Vehicle Systems, a leading supplier
of drivetrain systems and components for medium- and heavy-duty trucks,
trailers and off-highway equipment and specialty vehicles including military,
bus and coach, and fire and rescue; and Light Vehicle Systems, a major
supplier of roof, door, access control and seat adjusting systems, electric
motors, suspension systems and wheels for passenger cars, light trucks and
sport utility vehicles.

    * WABCO Automotive Products Group of American Standard Companies Inc.
.  This company is a joint venture partner of Meritor Heavy Vehicle
Systems, Inc. in Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems.

SOURCE  Meritor Automotive, Inc.