Maruti was the first to launch AMT, but lost the race in launching IMT to Hyundai and Kia
Hyundai and Kia were able to pleasantly surprise Indian car enthusiasts last year when they introduced a clutchless manual transmission. This gearbox option was introduced in the respective subcompact SUV offerings- Venue and Sonet, of both South Korean carmakers.
It appears that the country’s largest car manufacturer is planning to follow suit. Maruti Suzuki has filed a trademark application for ‘S-Assist’ which is highly speculated to become the Indo-Japanese carmaker’s version of a clutchless manual transmission. However, Maruti hasn’t come out with any official notification regarding this technology as of yet.
Current AMT technology
There is still no clue as far as its working is concerned and no information if and when details about this technology will come to light. It, however, reveals that the company is working on something new and hopefully we will get to know some details about it in the coming months.
As of now, Maruti offers the option of an automated manual transmission (AMT) which is marketed by the company as Auto Gear Shift (AGS) technology. This is a type of manual gearbox where both gear shifting and clutch engagement/disengagement operations are performed by sensors and actuators. Maruti currently offers such transmission options in models such as WagonR, Celerio, S-Presso and Swift.
If the S-Assist auto-clutch transmission indeed finds its way to production, Maruti might do away with either the manual gearbox or the AMT option on models mentioned above. One of the first cars which could get the S-Assist tech, could be the Brezza.
Benefits of iMT
An iMT offered by Hyundai and Kia, which stands for Intelligent Manual Transmission, is essentially a hybrid of manual and automatic transmission systems. In this setup, the driver shifts the gear manually but doesn’t have to use his/her feet to operate the clutch.
In this way, the driver gets the convenience of an automatic of not having to compress or decompress every time the gear is shifted. At the same time, it gives the driver more control of the car’s engine output by manually selecting the gear ratios. Thus, it proves to be the best of both worlds.
Working of iMT gearbox
The automatic clutch operation is achieved with the help of a sensor, a transmission control unit (TCU) and a hydraulic actuator. This system uses a conventional H-pattern gearshift knob which houses a sensor within.
The sensor sends a signal to TCU whenever the driver is about to shift the gears. TCU further informs the actuator to either engage or disengage clutch plate while shifting gears. Apart from Venue and Sonet, this gearbox is now also being offered in Hyundai i20 and Kia Seltos.