What happened to the dual-clutch transmission?
What happened to the dual-clutch transmission?
4:43

What happened to the dual-clutch transmission?

Cars
[MUSIC] Hey folks Cooley here I got another one of your emails about high tech cars and modern driving. Peter T asks why does it seem automakers are veering away from multi-clutch transmissions in favor of torque converter automatics, the old school type? He says, "Computer-automated multi-clutch transmissions, or duo-clutch transmissions, I thought, were on the up and up for their ultra-quick shifts suited for performance vehicles." Well, there is your fist clue, Peter. Performance vehicles and DCTs are great for that. First, let's explain what a duo-clutch transmission is The dual clutch transmission has clutches, two of them in fact, and uses a clutch like a manual for solid engagement and really crisp shifts. But it has no clutch pedal. It is either automated in the sense that you shift everything manually with paddles or fully automated in the right mode and it does all the shifting itself. Sounds ideal, right? But I'll tell you, in all the cars that I've reviewed over the years with DCTs, I never got the impression that dual-clutch gear box was gonna take over, was gonna go fully mainstream. Partly is, it's got this ability to be very sporty, very precise, great for performance like you mentioned, but at a cost. It's never quite as smooth and silky and it's frankly more nervous than a traditional torque converter automatically, often refered to derridingly by motor heads as a slush box. But they're not that slushy anymore. So the DCT has less of a mandate that compared to a crummy old automatic decades ago. Regular automatics these torque converter types have been made forever, and in huge numbers today. So there's an economy of scale, plus the fact that they've drilled all the cost out of them over the years that just make them very affordable to install in vehicles. DCTs are a little more pricey. And then there's this performance aspect you bring up. Notice what the head of BMW's M Division recently told Wheels of Australia. That within ten years or less, even the BMW M-Cars will get rid of manuals and dual-clutch automated transmissions In favor of sporting automatics and even Kia's hot new stinger model, their first performance car. Really important to get it right, they went with an automatic, not with a dual clutch. Now Ford tried to take dual clutch gearbox is really mainstream, when they called them power shift transmissions and stuck in a whole bunch of 2011 to about 2016, Focus and Fiesta vehicles and it went badly. They got a class action suit from lots of owners who said the care was shuttering, slipping, bucking, jerking, having hesitation while changing gears, premature internal wear, delays in downshifting and, in some cases, sudden or delayed acceleration. Not a pretty scenario. And Honda and Fiat Chrysler have been burned by DCTs in their times putting them on the market and most recently Mini said that they're just gonna waffle for awhile on their plans to bring a DCT in their cars to the US. So what's going on here overall? Sounds like the DCT is dead, not at all. The DCT actually has some pretty good growth Pricewater House Cooper's data shows that worldwide DCTs were a tiny part of all light vehicle cars in 2012, followed by the CTV. Then big numbers for the traditional automatic. And interestingly, large enough numbers for manuals. Now remember, large numbers for manuals for in this chart because this is a global story. Not a US story that's a very different picture. But by 2017 worldwide the DCT had made the biggest percentage jump in application. CVT a little bit, both taking a piece out of the still dominant torque converter automatic, and still large numbers for the manual. But once you come to the United States picture, look how different the story is. DCTs might make up 5% of the US market by the end of 2018. CVTs will gain big, but still be small. Torque converter automatics completely dominent, even though they're shedding some share. And manual transmissions at around 5% of the US market. Basically tied with the DCT for the position of being in the cellar. The traditional torque convertor automatic is the transmission for all seasons. It's had all the cost drilled out of it over many decades of development so it's very effecient to offer. It's got great performance on one hand with all kinds of firm internals, lockup torque converters and up to ten speeds. And on the other end it's got extremely smooth performance for your average driver, who doesn't care about this stuff and doesn't want a performance transmission. It truly is a transmission that solves everything. And if carmakers like anything in their business it's one part That solve problems for more customers. Keep those emails coming, I'm here to answer your questions about high tech cars and modern driving. It's cooley@theroadshow.com. [MUSIC]

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