Allison Transmission is an American manufacturer of commercial duty automatic transmissions and hybrid propulsion systems. Allison products are specified by over 250 vehicle manufacturers and are used in many market sectors including bus, refuse, fire, construction, distribution, military, and specialty applications.
With headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, Allison Transmission has regional offices all over the world and manufacturing facilities in Indianapolis, Chennai, India, and Szentgotthárd, Hungary.
Allison began in 1909 when James A. Allison, along with three business partners, helped fund and build the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1911, Allison’s new track held the first Indianapolis 500 mile race. In addition to funding several race teams, James Allison established his own racing team in 1915 and quickly gained a reputation for his work on race cars and automotive technology in general.
When World War I began, Allison suspended racing, and the Allison Experimental Company began machining parts, tools, and masters for the Liberty airplane engine — the main power plant used in the US war effort. After the war, Allison entered a car in the 1919 Indy 500 and won. It was the last race Allison’s team ever entered as he turned his company’s attention to aviation engineering. The company’s expertise in aviation was the major factor in General Motors decision to buy the company following James Allison’s death in 1928.
Shortly after the sale to General Motors in 1929, Allison engineers began work on a 12-cylinder engine to replace the aging Liberty engines. The result was the V1710 12-cylinder aircraft engine and it made the company, now known as the Allison Engine Company, a major force in aviation.
Toward the end of World War II, General Motors formed Allison Transmission to put the engineers’ expertise to work in a new field — power transmissions for tracked military vehicles. The new division developed a transmission combining range change, steering, and braking.
After WWII, Allison Transmission turned its attention to civilian transportation. Allison designed, developed, and manufactured the first-ever automatic transmissions for heavy-duty vehicles including delivery trucks, city buses, and locomotives.