20 years of I-Shift, Volvo Trucks' automated transmission

Take a closer look at I-Shift’s innovative journey and see how it has benefitted Volvo Trucks’ customers over the past 20 years.
A closer look at the innovative development of I-Shift, Volvo Truck's groundbreaking automated gearbox.
I-Shift, Volvo Trucks' ground-breaking automated transmission, is celebrating 20 years of innovative development

Volvo Trucks’ automated gearbox celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2021. I-Shift was the first-ever automated transmission designed for heavy duty trucks. It became a resounding success, offering customers a wide range of benefits. To this day, it continues to evolve and set the global standard for heavy duty automated transmissions.

The key to I-Shift’s success is that it works in perfect harmony with the entire Volvo Trucks powertrain. Combined with other innovative Volvo Trucks technologies, such as I-See predictive cruise control, I-Shift is an integral part of a holistic solution for better performance, driveability and efficiency. As I-Shift continues its journey forward, here’s a look back at how it became what it is today.

The evolution of I-Shift 


The first version of I-Shift, the electronically controlled transmission, based on a new, unsynchronised basic transmission is launched for European markets. Gear shifts are controlled by an electronic system which receives information from software optimised for long-haul transport. Customer testing quickly reveals its positive impact on fuel consumption, driver fatigue and safety. 

I-Shift was the first-ever automated transmission designed for heavy duty transport


The second-generation of I-Shift is introduced. The front and rear sections of the transmission have been redesigned to include a new clutch system and range-change unit. The result is greater capacity for higher gross combination weights allowing I-Shift to be used in selected construction and timber haulage applications. It also means I-Shift can be fitted to the Volvo FH16.


The new family of Volvo D11, D13 and D16 engines designed to meet the 2007 US emissions regulations is launched. This sees the introduction of the I-Shift transmission to North America.


The evolution continues when the third version of I-Shift is released with new customised software options to suit even more demanding applications. Virtually every Volvo Truck model can now be equipped with I-Shift. Driveability and a good average speed are greatly improved by the unrivalled transmission.


A versatile I-Shift now has applications for most types of transport and engines with high torque. The rear range has also been redesigned and shortened and the entire transmission is lighter and more compact. The num­ber of axle configurations that function with the I-Shift are now complete, with the exception of all-wheel drive. The design is robust, easy to maintain, reliable and fuel efficient.


Volvo Trucks develops I-See, a new, self-learning software for I-Shift that analyses route topography and uses that knowledge to keep the truck in the best, most fuel-efficient gear possible. 

I-See reads the topography of the road ahead and works in conjunction with I-Shift to help save fuel.


I-Shift Dual Clutch – a double-clutch transmission that retains torque between gear changes – is introduced. It’s the first clutch of its kind in the heavy duty transport sector and ensures a smoother drive, consistent average truck speed and even better levels of comfort and efficiency.


Volvo Trucks’ high-performance vehicle, the Iron Knight, beats two speed records to become the world’s fastest truck. Although most of the truck is custom-made, crucial to its success is the same series-produced I-Shift Dual Clutch found in the Volvo FH.

I-Shift with Crawler Gears launches, enabling trucks carrying up to 325 tonnes to start from standstill. It’s a game changer for heavy duty assignments that require extra torque, startability and precision manoeuvrability at low speeds. The extra start gears require less revs, lowering fuel consumption and reducing wear and tear on the driveline.

I-Shift with Crawler Gears is ideal for heavy duty assignments that require extra torque and startability at low speeds.


I-See is updated to include cloud-based map data, allowing it to support I-Shift in more situations, improving functionality, driveability and further reducing fuel costs. Gear selections feel more predictable and there is more rolling. 


Volvo Trucks phases out manual gearboxes – I-Shift now comes as standard across the entire range.


Volvo FH with I-Save, Volvo Trucks’ most fuel-efficient, long-haul truck to date is unveiled. Synchronised with I-Shift and other fuel-saving technologies, it can cut fuel costs more than ever before. Environmental impact is also significantly reduced.

The latest Volvo FH with I-Save


The launch of Volvo Trucks’ new heavy duty range sees the introduction of the unique Change Direction function (available for AVO-ENH). It eliminates the need to use the brake pedal when changing direction. The function is beneficial in construction and forestry applications where it’s more productive to perform fast, repetitive manoeuvres back and forth. The new trucks also further reduce fuel consumption.

2021 and beyond

Functionality will continue to be improved via specially adapted software packages to make I-Shift more practical and economical for a range of transport applications. I-Shift gears up for an electric and automated future.  


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