Hyundai’s new manual transmission, with no clutch pedal, says goodbye to grinding gears
The manual transmission has endured more than a century of attempts to replace it, but with Hyundai’s recent innovation, things are really getting interesting. The Korean brand’s upcoming intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT), which features a row-it-yourself gear selector but no clutch pedal, will debut with India’s Venue crossover SUV, replacing the traditional pedal with an automated hydraulic clutch release system that takes away most of the burden of working a manual transmission in daily traffic.
Of course, the stick shift disciples will chastise these two-pedal manuals for requiring less talent to operate. The technology, however, is more clever than you think when considering one of the key reasons why consumers have abandoned the manual transmission: increased time in congestion. We’ve all had that friend: “I bought the automatic because my knees can’t deal with a clutch in a traffic jam anymore.” This solution provides some of the joy of manually clicking through gears without the need for two-footed operation.
A load sensor on the shifter—Hyundai calls it a Transmission Gear Shift (TGS) Lever Intention Sensor—picks up on the driver’s movement of the shifter, and commands an electro-hydraulic actuator to begin building pressure in place of a manually-actuated master cylinder. From there, it pumps the transmission’s slave cylinder as you’d expect, clicking the clutch pressure plate open and closed while the driver takes care of the gear selection. Hyundai’s CEO, Mr. SS Kim, boiled it down to this: “iMT [retains the] pleasure of driving and also the convenience needed to ease the hectic burden of daily commutes.”
The new iMT transmissions will debut in India, but we hope to see the oddball transmission make it to U.S. shores, where manual take-rates for new cars float below 15 percent in the vehicles that offer them.