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Old 8th September 2011, 12:27   #1
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Default Technology That Makes Left Feet Obsolete - Clutchless Manuals

In a new development , cars which marry the convenience of the auto and the fuel economy and more responsive power delivery of a manual seem to be gaining ground . Hope India gets the see this tech soon!
The article has been taken from Wall Street Journal ( Cars That Let Drivers Shift Gears—Without a Clutch - WSJ.com)
Cars With Clutchless Transmissions Allow Drivers to Shift Gears Themselves, but Now There's No Need for a Floor Pedal

It's clutch time for the clutch pedal.
Fewer than 10% of the cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. last year were equipped with traditional manual transmissions and clutch pedals—even though a manual usually provides better fuel economy. New technology offers the fuel efficiency of a stick shift without the hassle of a clutch.
Manual transmissions have been on the decline in the U.S. for years. Now, Ford is launching a new clutchless manual transmission in its Fiesta and Focus lines, that offers stick-shift fuel economy without the inconvenience of a clutch pedal. WSJ's Joe White reports from Detroit.

European car makers for several years have been expanding their use of clutchless, or automated, manual transmissions under various names, responding to consumer demand for fuel-saving technology in a market where fuel is expensive.
Now, clutchless manuals are crossing the pond.
Ford Motor Co.'s new Fiesta subcompact and Focus compact both come with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, or a six speed "PowerShift" transmission, which is Ford's version of a clutchless manual.
Using PowerShift, the driver can choose between cruising along with the floor-shifter in "D" (for drive), letting the transmission's software do the shifting. Or the driver can pull the shift lever back one more notch to "S" (for shift) and press buttons on the side of the shift lever to change gears manually.
The D mode operates and feels like an automatic, except for a subtle but noticeable stutter when moving out of first gear. It's a catch familiar to someone who's driven an old-school manual—the car is engaging a clutch. But it has provoked complaints from some buyers of the new Focus. Ford has launched a campaign to educate buyers about the clutchless manual and is considering ways to recalibrate the transmission to smooth out the performance.
The PowerShift is currently a pricey option—it lists for about $1,000 on top of the roughly $16,500 starting price for the car. But it allows the Focus to get up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway, a 2-mpg improvement over the regular six-speed manual. A Focus SFE model equipped with PowerShift and other fuel-saving technology gets up to 40 mpg on the highway.
"Customers are getting used to it," says Craig Renneker, a senior Ford transmission engineer.
Even among cars favored by driving enthusiasts, clutchless transmissions are becoming the norm. At Porsche AG's U.S. arm, 55% to 65% of the buyers of Porsche sports cars buy a clutchless manual transmission, which is marketed as the PDK—short for "Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe." The new 911 model making its debut in Frankfurt next week will be offered with a seven-speed manual or a seven-speed clutchless PDK. For most buyers, the PDK would be faster, says Alexander Schildt, manager of product planning for Porsche Cars North America.
"You need to be a world-class driver to beat the PDK" with a clutch manual, Mr. Schildt says.
Volkswagen AG offers clutchless-manual technology, which it calls DSG, in several models. General Motors Co. and Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group are considering the technology, the companies say. Meanwhile, auto makers are improving their conventional automatic transmissions to narrow the gap with manuals.
Some other auto makers, including Nissan Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Subaru offer continuously variable transmissions, or CVTs, in certain models. CVTs eliminate both clutches and gears. Power is transmitted from the engine to wheels using a system of belts and cone-shaped pulleys.
Toyota Motor Corp.'s $400,000 Lexus LFA super cars use computer-controlled hydraulic systems to control gear changes and a single clutch. In lower-priced cars, company officials say, Toyota is likely to expand the use of an automatic transmission that can be operated in full manual mode. While the mechanics of these systems are different, the driver gets to choose whether to shift the gears, or not.
The upshot is that so few U.S. customers want what used to be called "standard shift," that auto makers are dropping manuals altogether from high-volume models, such as the Ford F-150 pickup.
Manuals are still available in some mass-market American cars mainly because they allow car makers to advertise a lower base price and provide better fuel-economy numbers than heavier automatic gearboxes. A good manual can make a car more fun to drive, which is why sports cars such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and some high-performance European cars still offer manual gearboxes.
Learning the stick shift was once a rite of passage for many drivers in the baby boom generation. But fewer and fewer younger drivers are bothering to master the art.
"It's very rare to find it taught in modern driver education," says William Van Tassel, manager of driver training programs for the AAA national office, who says he drives a stick-shift 2004 Porsche 911. The AAA has a textbook that explains how it's done, but real-world practice is essential.
Car collectors and enthusiasts bemoan the demise of the stick, and some are trying to fight the trend. Car and Driver magazine has launched a "Save the Manuals" campaign, complete with a Facebook page. Hagerty Insurance, the leader in the business of insuring classic cars, staged an event in Dearborn, Mich., in July called "Operation Ignite," which included instruction for teens in driving a stick. Hagerty is planning to run similar programs over the next several months in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Vancouver.
"The No. 1 concern that hundreds of thousands of car collectors have is that young people aren't participating in the hobby," says McKeel Hagerty, the company's chief executive.
Declining interest in truly driving a car will consign classic automobiles to museums and show displays. "Because there are no manual transmissions, kids don't learn to drive," he adds.
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Old 8th September 2011, 13:09   #2
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Default Re: Technology That Makes Left Feet Obsolete - Clutchless Manuals

I think it would be a good idea to offer clutchless manuals on all products at least as an option. Oh ! How i would love to have the DSG gearbox on my Polo 1.6!
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Old 8th September 2011, 15:21   #3
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Default Re: Technology That Makes Left Feet Obsolete - Clutchless Manuals

Dont really understand whats so new about it.Did not the old lancer automatic 1.8Petrol come with an auto with manual shift possible?The civic with the paddle shifts?So whats new this time?
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Old 9th September 2011, 01:05   #4
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Default Re: Technology That Makes Left Feet Obsolete - Clutchless Manuals

This made excellent reading Sourav. I wonder when will we really get something like this in the near future (don't see it coming for atleast another 5 yrs that too optimistically). Personally i feel this kind of technology is really well suited for our country especially in cities like Mumbai.

Speaking of which imagine your Vento TDi in a such a transmission but alas!
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Old 9th September 2011, 07:41   #5
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Default Re: Technology That Makes Left Feet Obsolete - Clutchless Manuals

This is interesting news. I have been wondering for years why a relatively simple mechanical problem like disengaging and re-engaging the clutch when the gear-lever is moved can not be solved. May be cost considerations.

Originally Posted by revintup View Post
Dont really understand whats so new about it.Did not the old lancer automatic 1.8Petrol come with an auto with manual shift possible?The civic with the paddle shifts?So whats new this time?
I believe the difference is in paddle-shifts, the car is still running in 'automatic' transmission and you get to 'correct' the gear as against this new technology where the driver 'selects' which he/she wants to be in.
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