“The ease of operation allows the drivers to concentrate on driving not shifting.”

A Fleet Owner

Executive Summary

Fleets should expect to see improved fuel economy from automatic transmissions, which have full power shifts and a torque converter to seamlessly transition between gears. They are most valuable in city driving where a significant amount of shifting is required. 

Improved driver recruitment and retention are big factors behind many fleet owners’ decision to specify these transmissions over manual transmissions. In addition, they reduce the variability in fuel economy from one driver to the next.

Although it is too early to predict the payback for automatic transmissions, their business case is expected to be strong over time.

Note: All benefits and consequences are the same for automated manual transmissions (AMTs) and automatic transmissions except for the fuel economy performance.  AMTs offer 1-3% fuel economy improvements and enable even higher levels of performance in future with features such as downspeeding, and the use of GPS to better manage hills and valleys.   Fuel savings from automatic transmissions are yet to be determined.

Common Fleet Strategies

Fleets are increasingly investing in electronically controlled transmission. Many fleets have said that going forward all of their vehicles will be spec’ed with electronically controlled transmissions.  Fleets have indicated these transmissions improve fuel economy but also help with driver recruitment and retention efforts. Fleet owners believe spec’ing electronically controlled transmissions makes them more attractive to younger drivers who have no experience driving standard transmissions. Learnings from automated manual transmissions show that use of electronically controlled transmissions can be touted in recruitment efforts, and can improve the driving experience. 

What Others Are Saying
Decision-Making Tools

The study team developed several tools to help fleets in making their decision about electronically controlled transmissions.

  • The Comparison Chart shows features of the various electronically controlled transmissions currently on the market. 
  • The Payback Calculator is an incremental analysis tool designed to compare two or more of the situations and/or equipment selections available to a fleet, using the fleet’s own data or their own best estimates. 
  • The Confidence Matrix is used to inform fleets of the study team’s confidence in the technology being studied vs. the payback a fleet should expect to receive from the technology.

Decision-Making Tools


Currently one supplier makes automatic transmissions.


After 25 years of development globally, electronically controlled transmissions are:

  • Are ready for prime time — These transmissions are proving to be reliable and adoption rates validate end user trust in their performance and durability. 
  • Offer a good business case for adoption — They deliver fuel savings of 1-3%, have low operating costs and an acceptable initial purchase price.
  • Are an enabler of additional benefits — They allow further improvements in fuel economy, safety and operational efficiency especially as manufacturers combine highly integrated components into effective powertrain combinations.