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What is an Allison transmission?

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Quick Answer

The Allison Transmission company specializes in automatic transmissions and hybrid compulsion systems for commercial vehicles. Its products are used in defense vehicles, buses, construction vehicles and distribution vehicles.

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James Allison was one of the four founders of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Allison Transmission, originally Speedway Team Company, was founded in 1915 to support his racing interests. With the announcement of World War I in 1917, the company changed its focus to redesigning military vehicles. In 1920, the company changed its name to Allison Engineering Company. From 1920 to Allison's death in 1928, the company focused primarily on aircraft and marine technologies.

General Motors bought the company after Allison's death and continued his work in commercial aviation and military vehicle engineering. In 1946, the company teamed with Detroit Diesel to manufacture the first fully- automatic transmissions for off-highway operation. By the end of the 1940s, transmissions from the company were used in M46 Patton battle tanks, VW Buses and rail cars.

In 2007, Allison Transmissions was purchased by The Carlyle Group and Onex Corporation, and in 2009 the company received a $62.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a hybrid drivetrain for commercial trucks. In 2012, company stocks became public for trade under the New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol ALSN.

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