SEOUL--Hyundai will introduce dual-clutch and continuously variable transmissions to models for the United States as early as next year as it seeks to become a leader in fuel efficiency, a top executive says.
This will be the first application of a dual-clutch transmission for Hyundai. The transmission--which uses two clutches to shift a manual gearbox as if it were an automatic--is more efficient than either a traditional manual or automatic gearbox.
The dual-clutch will come as the standard transmission on some models and will be offered as an option on others, Yang Woong-chul, president of Hyundai's R&D division, said in an interview last month.
The company currently uses a continuously variable transmission only in the hybrid version of its Elantra for the South Korean market. But it will apply the pulley-style CVT to a wider range of smaller models to boost mileage, Yang said.
"To improve our fuel economy, we are aggressively trying to apply various technologies," Yang said. He declined to say in what models the fuel-saving transmissions would debut.
Hyundai is making fuel efficiency a top priority in its marketing. This year it announced plans to lift its corporate average fuel economy rating to 50 mpg by 2025. And four upcoming models, including the redesigned Elantra, will get at least 40 mpg highway.
Direct-injection engines, turbochargers, lightweight materials, and gasoline-electric hybrids will help Hyundai get there. But the new transmissions are key to the strategy. Dual-clutches and CVTs can deliver up to 10 percent better fuel economy than standard automatics.
CVTs, widely used by automakers such as Nissan Motor and Honda Motor, are gaining popularity with other manufacturers as they seek to meet more stringent fuel economy standards. Dual-clutches are more popular in Europe and have yet to gain a large foothold in North America.
Yang said Hyundai also will apply turbochargers to smaller engines.
Turbos are offered as an option on the 2.0-liter engine for the Sonata mid-size sedan. But Hyundai wants to extend turbocharging to its 1.6-liter four-banger as well, he said.
Said Yang: "It will probably be applied to many car lines."