The clutchless maze has started and is taking over the Indian roads. The new-age vehicles are getting high on technology with minimal mechanics, where the clutch is the first to go. With the advent of smart vehicles, technology has reduced active pedals in a vehicle to two – brake and accelerator – as the new-age transmission is without a clutch pedal.
New Delhi. Sonet is the first to have a 50% clutchless offering. This new sub-compact SUV from Kia Motors of South Korea has taken up the cudgels for the best of technologies by taking out the clutch for a performance drive.
Sonet has taken a while to come to its form to take the sheen of success beyond Seltos that has set a new benchmark for quality and performance which all peers are trying to emulate.
ETAuto drove two vehicles that were both clutchless: the – G1.0 T-GDi with 6iMT, and 1.5L CRDi VGT. Referred to as automatics, the new intelligent manual transmission (iMT) stole the thunder with its precision and the controlled but aggressive acceleration that adds more fun into the drive. Driving these cars has been an experience at par with that of the electronic vehicles which are improvised automatics with massive pounds of acceleration.
Sonet could be the fastest to reach 0 to 100 kmph in the segment and is the best to handle with precise steering and accurate braking that make all the difference for a safe and controlled drive. Also are the fast-moving 16’ wheels that are ideal for bumpy Indian roads facing potholes in virtually every 100 metres.
The success of Kia Motors has been unprecedented in the challenging conditions where companies are trying hard to propel sales. At this time its bet to bring the expensive clutchless technology is quite a distinctive decision.
Despite several attempts, India remained a manual transmission market partly because of the mileage consciousness and the price advantages to the customers. Those were the days of conventional technology where price ruled the market and customers preferred fuel-efficient cars.
Then came the automated manual transmission or AMT that changed the landscape forever. Maruti Suzuki introduced it in the Indian market in its Celerio hatchback. This increased the demand for the AMT models. AMT was then introduced in volume models like Alto and WagonR and made half of its portfolio of small cars clutchless.
Traditionally India was a market where about 98% of all passenger cars sold were with a manual gear shift. AMT made India witness a change in buyer preferences, prompted by the ease of driving of such cars and their availability at a cost that’s almost close to their manual sibling.
” The shift towards affordable automatics is quite pronounced. Earlier, price retention was an issue. However, things have changed and now even smaller cars and compact SUVs with automatic are extremely price competitive. “
The surge grew, and AMT technology never looked back. It formed a significant percentage of the new cars sold by Maruti Suzuki. This then prompted the competitors like Hyundai Motor India and Tata Motors to introduce AMT in their models.
As per the latest data, 26% percent of the cars sold now are clutchless with various forms of technologies coming into play. Automatics sold until a few years ago were mostly in the luxury category and small numbers by Honda, Toyota and Skoda Auto.
Prompted by the response, the industry expects automatics to comprise half its sales volume by the next decade as virtually all companies have lined up launch of automatic versions for different models.
iMT is the new kid on the block
The intelligent manual transmission comes as a revolutionary technology where the vehicle is clutchless but drives like a manual. The technology is way ahead of AMT and comes as the convenience and thrill of the manual gear ratios available in the Korean makes of Hyundai and Kia Motors cars. The clutch is electro-mechanically actuated with seamless comfort of a 2-pedal transmission.
Technically the iMT technology features a transmission gear shift (TGS) lever with intention sensor, hydraulic actuator and transmission control unit (TCU). The system has been designed to offer a seamless ‘Drive Experience’ by incorporating a cohesive logic between the various components on manual transmissions.
It operates in the way that the Transmission Control Unit receives signal from TGS’s Lever Intention Sensor, indicating the driver’s desire to change gears. TCU sends a signal to engage the hydraulic actuator forming hydraulic pressure.