Double-Clutch = Double Fun
Many people know that when it comes to efficiency, standard transmissions are the way to go. They save money on gas, require a little more hand-foot coordination and are generally a little cheaper off the lot. On the other hand, automatic transmissions require a little less work on the part of the driver and usually provide a smoother, jerk-free ride. What it all comes down to is compromise and where we are willing to do so. The good news is that thanks to BorgWarner's dual-clutch transmission, we don't have to make that decision.
Dual-clutch technology has been around for quite some time. Sadly, they have been restricted to the higher end sport and luxury cars. Some have made it into the Volkswagen production line, but went no farther. The basic idea is to combine the smooth, quiet shifting mechanism of the new automatics with the efficiency of today’s standards. This is accomplished, as the name implies, by using 2 separate clutch systems. The design also incorporates a two part gearbox unit, which will operate the odd and even gears independently. Now, let’s delve into operation.
As you reach a shift-point, the opposite gearbox begins to engage the upcoming gear. At the same time, the current gear is slowly disengaged. The power is evenly transferred to the next gear and the previous gear is completely disengaged. At no time is power completely removed from the wheels and since there is no shift-jump, you don’t spill your coffee. The performance benefits as well as the efficiency increase are obvious.
BorgWarner plans to increase production of the dual-clutch transmission to as many as 2.3 million by 2013. They are currently testing them in automobiles around the world. One of which is the new Nissan GT-R : ) They hope that the production numbers will keep cost down while still initiating a shift toward the better performing design.
Learn More: How Stuff Works and BorgWarner Products