ETAuto Exclusive: How will ‘Clutchless’ Manual Transmission transform your driving experience?

by admin July 7, 2020 at 10:22 am
 It seems like Hyundai has stolen the show and went a step ahead as it took the lead from Kia by launching iMT equipped Venue.
It seems like Hyundai has stolen the show and went a step ahead as it took the lead from Kia by launching iMT equipped Venue.

New Delhi: In an industry-first move for India, the South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor India announced the debut of two-pedal clutch-less technology called intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) on its connected SUV Venue petrol turbo variant that will bring more fun to driving on normal roads.

Interestingly, the company’s sister brand, Kia Motors which is set to launch its much-anticipated subcompact SUV Sonet during this festive period had earlier announced at the Auto Expo 2020 that the Sonet will come with several segment-first features including the clutchless manual gearbox.

However, it seems like Hyundai has stolen the show and went a step ahead as it took the lead from Kia by launching iMT equipped Venue in the latter half of July and adding more refinement to this popular SUV.

Globally, this clutchless technology has been present for a while. Besides Korean Kia and Hyundai, Japanese automaker Toyota Motor have been offering this technology on its select vehicles.

In fact, Kia recently developed iMT, especially for mild-hybrids to be fitted to the recently upgraded Kia Rio EcoDynamics+, due on sale in Europe during the third quarter of 2020. The transmission is also said to be adopted across a number of future Kia models in the pipeline.

The iMT is available with the Hyundai Venue compact SUV's Kappa 1.0-litre T-GDi Petrol (BS-VI) engine.
The iMT is available with the Hyundai Venue compact SUV’s Kappa 1.0-litre T-GDi Petrol (BS-VI) engine.

What is an intelligent manual transmission?

Whenever one talks about conventional manual transmissions, they refer to a three-pedal system consisting of an accelerator, brake and clutch. Here the clutch is the most frequently used pedal in driving the car. In the case of automatic cars, it is a two-pedal system where the clutch is absent and driving is much more convenient.

iMT technology is a 2-pedal system including accelerator and brake, just like an automatic car~

As for this new iMT technology, it is a 2-pedal system including accelerator and brake, just like an automatic car, which eliminates the need for drivers to constantly use the clutch pedal, but the driver still retains the ability to slot gears manually, thereby delivering enhanced control. Manual shifting will be done by drivers in the traditional ‘H’ pattern.

According to Hyundai, this gearbox uses the ‘intention sensor’ with the gear lever to send a signal to the Transmission Control Unit (TCU) when the driver intends to change gear. The TCU then signals hydraulic actuators to engage and disengage the clutch-plate while the driver shifts gears. Through this electromechanical operation of the clutch, iMT will offer drivers all the pleasures of driving a manual transmission without the tedious clutch pedal.

How is iMT different from AMT?

AMT or Automatic Manual Transmission was brought to India by Maruti Suzuki in 2014 in its compact hatchback Celerio which called it as Auto Gear Shift. Since then there has been no looking back, AMT variants has been a hit among Indian car buyers due to its easy drive mode and hassle-free gear change at an affordable price.

Automatic Manual Transmission is just like an automatic car but it has a clutch that is completely absent in automatic cars. It’s just that the car will be handling it on its own, saving some work for the driver’s feet.

In an AMT, one does not have to operate either the clutch or shift gears manually. The changing of gears is linear and not slot based whereas in iMT one can actually change the gears in the ‘H’ pattern, like systematic changing of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th gears but without any clutch input from the driver.

Hyundai's iMT technology features a Transmission Gear Shift (TGS) lever with Intention Sensor, Hydraulic Actuator and Transmission Control Unit (TCU).
Hyundai’s iMT technology features a Transmission Gear Shift (TGS) lever with Intention Sensor, Hydraulic Actuator and Transmission Control Unit (TCU).

Benefits of iMT technology

The automaker claimed this electromechanical operation of the clutch will empower customers with a more engaging drive experience by offering enhanced control over desired torque on wheels without compromising on fuel efficiency and performance.

Kia’s iMT for mild hybrid electric vehicles claims to improve overall fuel efficiency and can reduce CO2 emissions by around 3%~

This technology could especially be a useful addition in cars on Indian roads which are infamous for its bumper to bumper traffic.

According to Hyundai, the benefits of this technology from an efficiency perspective is that it enables the clutch to be automatically disengaged, and the engine shut down when a driver is coasting to a stop. As soon as the accelerator is pressed, the engine restarts.

Meanwhile, Kia’s iMT for mild hybrid electric vehicles claims to improve overall fuel efficiency and can reduce CO2 emissions by around 3 percent in real-world driving conditions.

Cost implications of iMT technology

Generally, for AMT variant of the entry-level units, the price is around Rs 50,000 dearer to the manual option. As for the iMT variant, the prices are bound to change, but Hyundai refused to comment on how it will impact the cost structure till the date of launch. The debut of the technology in Venue is expected to be very competitively priced against the peers while giving it a technology edge to attract more customers in an extremely competitive environment.

Also Read: Hyundai India introduces intelligent Manual Transmission to Venue SUV