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Kia Details New Intelligent Manual Transmission For Mild-Hybrid Models

Modified On Jun 26, 2020 05:44 PM By Sonny

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It is claimed to increase efficiency while retaining driver engagement from shifting gears

  • New Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) from Kia uses a clutch-by-wire system.

  • Kia claims it will improve fuel economy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

  • The iMT switches off engine when coasting and uses a 48V mild-hybrid starter generator to restart the engine in gear.

  • It will be offered in upcoming Kia mild-hybrid models along with other new engine options.

Kia has revealed its new manual transmission system for upcoming mild-hybrid car models that increases fuel efficiency and reduces CO2 emissions. The new Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) is electronically operated by the ‘clutch-by-wire’ technology.

The new transmission is integrated with the 48V mild-hybrid powertrain. It uses the mild-hybrid starter generator (MHSG) to switch off the engine when coasting, instead of the usual stop-start systems. Kia estimates this reduces the vehicle’s emissions by around 3 per cent in real-world conditions and also improves fuel economy. 

The clever bit is that the chosen gear remains engaged even when the engine is off. The engine starts in the same gear when the driver presses either the accelerator or brake using the power from the MHSG. In case the driver pushes the clutch to change gear or if the car is moving too slow for the gear engaged, the iMT restarts the engine in neutral with the clutch open.

When the engine switches off while coasting in gear, the open clutch limits deceleration. Pressing the accelerator or the clutch, the starter generator and 48V battery bring the revs up to right speed as the engine restarts. It makes the standard manual gearbox system smarter and more efficient without taking away from the driver engagement of shifting gears. The more prevalent start-stop system of mild-hybrid powertrains with a manual gearbox, as seen with Maruti models like the Ciaz and Ertiga, would only come into play when the car comes to a complete stop like at a red light.

Kia will be offering the new iMT with clutch-by-wire technology on future Kia models, starting with the updated Rio hatchback’s hybrid variant for Europe that uses a new 1.0-litre turbo-petrol mild-hybrid powertrain. The carmaker plans to introduce a range of engines and mild-hybrid powertrains for global models later this year.

Kia’s current lineup in India does not include any mild-hybrid powertrains. Its next model for India is the Sonet sub-4m SUV, which is unlikely to get a mild-hybrid variant at launch. However, the new Kia iMT is due to arrive in India eventually, likely in a mild-hybrid SUV.

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