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Special fluid would only allow the driver to choose the correct gear

Walk into a room full of automotive enthusiasts and ask about manual transmissions and you'll likely get mixed responses. Sports car purists think a row-your-own, manual gearbox is the only way to go. However, many feel that the new semi-automatic gearboxes where shifts are made by clicking paddles behind the steering wheel are superior. Based solely on how quickly gear changes can be made, fans of the semi-automatic gearbox have a point.
 
Efficiency and speed aside, many sports car fans won't buy a car without a manual transmission. While BMW sells more cars with automatic or SMG gearboxes, a patent has surfaced that shows the traditional manual transmission still has a place with the BMW brand. The patent shows that BMW is considering a future with manual transmissions that have more than the normal six forward gears common today.
 
Many automatic transmissions are capable of better fuel efficiency than a manual transmission simply due to the fact that some have more forward gears with high seventh or even eight ratios to cut fuel consumption.
 
BMW's patent describes the problem was simply adding more gears to the current six speed manual transmission. The patent reads, "an 8 speed manual transmission would need four shift gates for the 8 gears alone." The problem with adding more gates is that it becomes difficult for the driver to shift gears and the potential for accidentally shifting into a lower gear and damaging the engine by over-rev grows.
 
BMW's solution of adding more gates and the growing complexity for drivers is both insane, and incredibly smart. BMW wants to design a manual transmission that will only allow the driver to shift into the correct gear. Anyone that's accidentally grabbed second on a 4 to 3 shift at speed will appreciate that innovation.
 
BMWs innovation creates shift gates that are surrounded by a magnetorheologic or electrorheologic fluid. That is a complicated way of saying that the fluid would prevent any improper shift when a voltage is applied to change viscosity of the fluid, therefore physically blocking any gear but the correct gear for downshift. The technology could be used on manual transmissions with a clutch pedal or without.
 
BMW sees an interesting potential by creating a shift-by-wire transmission where you can shift gears with a lever without having use a clutch pedal. This would be sort of a combination of an automated SMG and a traditional manual transmission. There is no indication of when this technology might come to market at this time, but it sounds like a very good idea.
 
Porsche already has a seven-speed manual transmission available in the 2012 911.

Source: E90 Post



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Shifter design
By FITCamaro on 6/7/2012 10:14:57 AM , Rating: 3
A good shifter design can largely eliminate any worry of shifting into the wrong gear. You don't need some crazy expensive fluid to do it.




RE: Shifter design
By nafhan on 6/7/2012 10:12:40 AM , Rating: 2
You may be overestimating the intelligence (or at least the driving capabilities) of some people with piles of cash. :)

Seriously, though, if BMW thinks people are willing to pay for this, then it's worth putting the money into research and development.


RE: Shifter design
By amanojaku on 6/7/2012 10:35:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Seriously, though, if BMW thinks people are willing to pay for this, then it's worth putting the money into research and development.
BMW can make whatever technology it wants, since this it doesn't need government loans or tax credits. I'm looking at you, Fisker and Tesla.


RE: Shifter design
By lelias2k on 6/7/2012 4:48:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm looking at you, Fisker and Tesla.


Yeah, because no other car company has ever taken government loans to stay afloat. Nor they take advantages of federal/state rebates. Wait...


RE: Shifter design
By amanojaku on 6/7/2012 5:15:04 PM , Rating: 1
Ford hasn't had any government assistance, nor has it relied on rebates. Fisker and Tesla should follow Ford's lead, not Chrysler and GM's.


RE: Shifter design
By Samus on 6/7/2012 8:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
Ford accepted government loans in 2006 through the Department of Energy. They were repaid in 2011. All auto manufactures have taken on government assistance, wether it be via banks, grants, or direct intervention (in the case of GM/Chrysler.) There is nothing 'wrong' with this, in my opinion, in the same way there was nothing 'wrong' with the government bailing out wallstreet in September 08. This can work to the fed's advantage if done properly as loans generally make profit, something our government needs to reduce our debt.

What's wrong is that they grant loans and bailouts without any regulation, restrictions, time-frame to repay or even REQUIREMENT to repay. That part is ridiculous. Only the US Government would be naive enough to piss away money like that. At least Germany isn't so stupid to let the rest of the EU drag them down without some restrictions, while the countries in the Euro-zone moan about Germany's restrictions. Sorry folks, but when you get yourself into deep shit, there's going to be consequences when someone pulls you to safety. At least their should be, otherwise, you'll just get yourself in deep shit again...


RE: Shifter design
By ZmaxDP on 6/8/2012 5:25:51 PM , Rating: 2
That's not at all true. They didn't take any tarp money perhaps, but Ford has taken millions in federal and state tax incentives over the years. Their Focus EV line qualifies and will take advantage of the rebates as well. So, yeah, get your facts right before you hold them up above the "others". They're no different - it's just a question of when did they take taxpayer money...


RE: Shifter design
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2012 10:49:28 AM , Rating: 4
No Fit is right. This is the biggest problem with the vaunted "German engineering". Over complication and over-technical solutions for the sake of "advanced" gadgetry. Regardless of manufacturing costs, maintenance hassles, and repair fees.

A Japanese manufacturer would come up with a solution that achieved the same result while being 300% less expensive, and operated for the life of the vehicle with little to probably no maintenance required. For god sakes, we're talking about a shifter here!

BMW? No, we need to develop magical fluid to prevent accidental shifts.


RE: Shifter design
By FITCamaro on 6/7/2012 10:52:19 AM , Rating: 2
Nissan implemented their rev matching feature for the 370Z although I'm not sure what it does when you try to put it into a gear that would over-rev the engine.


RE: Shifter design
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/12, Rating: -1
RE: Shifter design
By FITCamaro on 6/7/2012 11:38:23 AM , Rating: 2
If you shift from second to first instead of third and release the clutch, it doesn't matter if you have a rev limiter. The engine at that point is mechanically linked to the wheels in that gear and is going to spin however fast the wheels and that gear dictate.

While most will react and push the clutch in quickly, that doesn't guarantee that you didn't damage anything in that second or two. Assuming the motor doesn't just blow up. I've seen what happens to an engine when its shifted into the wrong gear at speed. Saw an LS6 from a race shop Corvette that one of the mechanics was testing on the road course and put a piston out the side of the block from a wrong shift. 10-15k rpm can do very bad things to a motor not built for it.


RE: Shifter design
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2012 11:49:40 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah I had a brain fart on that one lol. I dunno, I've been driving manuals for like 15 years and have never blown a shift that bad.

HOWEVER, side note, it's really cool that among the flood of boring EV and hybrid articles, DT finally has something about an ICE car. A 7 speed to boot!


RE: Shifter design
By DiscoWade on 6/7/2012 1:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
My 2004 350Z 6-speed manual makes it very difficult if not impossible to choose a gear that will over-rev the engine. I never have tried to force, but I do know that it feels like there is a lock on 1st or 2nd gear when going 55 MPH. It really is a good solution: prevent the driver from choosing a gear that will damage the engine.


RE: Shifter design
By ATX22 on 6/7/2012 1:24:18 PM , Rating: 3
The 5-speed in my GMC truck is basically the same. Trying to shift in a gear that is way too low while going too fast would take A LOT of work. It doesn't grind or kill the engine, it just makes a whirring noise (probably the synchronizers) and refuses to drop into gear.... I guess it can still be FORCED into gear, but that would be deliberate damage at that point.

A 7-speed wouldn't be hard to learn at all... been wanting an extra gear on the dodge... 6 gears just aren't enough when you're on the highway in a diesel pulling no load.


RE: Shifter design
By drycrust3 on 6/7/2012 5:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
We have Scania buses at my depot, and they have an automatic transmission (that does at least 5 gear changes to get to 50 km/hr), and according to a Scania mechanic, the gearbox used is exactly the same gearbox as used in the "manual" transmission trucks. He said the only difference was the truck had a gear lever while we have three buttons (and the appropriate control-interface differences).
My guess is the gear lever arrangement on this car could be just about anything, the "gear lever" being just an indicator of which gear to use. Why not, for example, just have an "up or down" gear lever, leaving the actual ratio selected up to the gearbox?


RE: Shifter design
By Calin on 6/8/2012 2:56:58 AM , Rating: 2
I suppose the 7th gear is only for low rpm at high speed, the 6th gear would be the highest in use during "sporty" driving


RE: Shifter design
By rflynn88 on 6/7/2012 11:31:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Engines can't be over-reved anyway because of rev-limiters.


This statement is completely false.

If you shift the transmission into a gear which would have the engine revving over the rev-limit (say shifting from 3 to 2 when 3rd gear is at redline) and you release the clutch, the engine doesn't magically slow the car down instantly such that the engine doesn't exceed its rev-limit. If the car is going X MPH which spins the engine at Y RPM in Z gear, that's what will happen (unless the clutch slips). Yes the fuel may cut due to the rev-limiter, but until the car slows down or the clutch is pressed, the engine will over-rev.

IMO, this BMW 7-speed manual concept is a waste. What is the point of a manual transmission if the shifter is not physically connected to the transmission and the driver does not have full control? Not everything needs to be build to the lowest common denominator idiot. If you can't drive a proper manual, don't buy one.


RE: Shifter design
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2012 11:54:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
IMO, this BMW 7-speed manual concept is a waste. What is the point of a manual transmission if the shifter is not physically connected to the transmission and the driver does not have full control? Not everything needs to be build to the lowest common denominator idiot. If you can't drive a proper manual, don't buy one.


That's what I'm saying. BMW has gotten away from the "Ultimate Driving" experience and lately is just into gee-wizery gadgetry for no reason. All of their great drivers from the past are now bloated luxo-barges.


RE: Shifter design
By Spuke on 6/7/2012 12:22:50 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the gadgetry is a bit out of hand but they still drive very well. We're going to buy a 135i convertible for the wife in a few months so I'm a little biased. :)


RE: Shifter design
By Reclaimer77 on 6/7/2012 2:36:55 PM , Rating: 2
Hey I have a lot of respect for BMW don't get me wrong. And what they are doing obviously makes sense from a business perspective, they sell tons of vehicles.

The 135i is a nice car. Lucky wifey!


RE: Shifter design
By Spuke on 6/7/2012 2:47:53 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The 135i is a nice car. Lucky wifey!
Thinking about buying one too for myself (used coupe) but the Boss 302 would run circles around it honestly. If Ford only offered a DCT it would make the choice much easier.


RE: Shifter design
By lelias2k on 6/7/2012 4:57:13 PM , Rating: 2
If you are into drag racing, I agree.

But depending on the track (and with the right driver) I'm pretty confident the 135i can hold its own.


RE: Shifter design
By amanojaku on 6/7/2012 8:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
The Boss 302 would need a pretty pathetic driver for the 135i to beat it in any race. The power to weight ratio favors the Boss, which also has a higher amount of HP and torque. The Boss competes with the M3, the bigger brother of the 135i.

0-60: 135i - 4.5s Boss 302 - 4.3s
0-100: 135i - 10.9s Boss 302 - 10.0s
0-120: 135i - 16.9s Boss 302 - 14.9s
Quarter mile: 135i - 13.0s@109mph Boss 302 - 12.8@113mph

That being said, I'd buy the 135i before I'd buy the Boss. The 135i is more comfortable and luxurious. And, anyway, if you're gonna buy a Mustang, it might as well be a GT500 or the 2011 GT350.


RE: Shifter design
By Spuke on 6/7/2012 11:58:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That being said, I'd buy the 135i before I'd buy the Boss. The 135i is more comfortable and luxurious. And, anyway, if you're gonna buy a Mustang, it might as well be a GT500 or the 2011 GT350.
Honestly, I could care less about luxury. That's what Mercs and Lexus are for. I want performance and I'm partial to turbo's and I don't want to pay a ridiculous price for it. The Mustang is only a consideration because of its newfound ridiculous performance. To say I'm impressed is an understatement.


RE: Shifter design
By Spuke on 6/7/2012 11:45:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you are into drag racing, I agree.
Check out the Car and Driver Lightning Lap. Granted they tested the Laguna Seca version but from what I understand the standard Boss 302 is only a second or two behind. The 135i isn't in the same league as the Boss 302. Sorry.

Lap time was 3:02.8. How fast was that? 911 GT3 did it only a second quicker. Where was the 135i? Try 3:13.7. Smoked by the Mustang. To add insult to injury the standard Mustang GT does it in 3:08.6. Half a second quicker than a Lotus Elise.

The new Stang's are just plain fast but I'm still considering a 135i.


RE: Shifter design
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2012 11:47:02 AM , Rating: 2
The Boss 302 starts at $42k. Sorry Ford, but the base Corvette is still a better buy.


RE: Shifter design
By Spuke on 6/8/2012 11:36:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The Boss 302 starts at $42k. Sorry Ford, but the base Corvette is still a better buy.
I don't know. You have to get the Grand Sport to get the handling package (no more Z51) and that's considerably more ($56,900 base) than the Boss 302.


RE: Shifter design
By wiz220 on 6/7/2012 11:32:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yaaa, I was in a car with a guy going about 100 when he accidentally went from fifth down to second (instead of fourth)...rev limiter didn't save the motor.


RE: Shifter design
By avxo on 6/7/2012 1:13:02 PM , Rating: 3
The guy you were in the car with was an incompetent idiot. And nothing can save incompetent idiots.


RE: Shifter design
By djc208 on 6/7/2012 12:16:46 PM , Rating: 3
They're not developing any magical fluid. This is the same type of fluid Delphi developed for shock absorbers that is used in GM and some Ferrari vehicles. It changes viscosity based on an electrical input.

So I'm guessing there would be some sort of cavities inside the shift mechanism with this fluid inside it. The computer would charge certain pockets of it to make it thicker so that if you tried to pull the shifter into that gear the fluid in that shift rail would be "harder" and make it more difficult to select that gear.

Many modern manuals have mechanical interlocks to prevent selecting first or reverse above certain speeds. Sounds like this would just work over more gears. Like anything electronic though the question would be how "restrictive" the system is. Sevent to second would probably be bad, but maybe I do want to go to 4th or 3rd. Being told no by the manual would be just as annoying as driving the auto.


RE: Shifter design
By lelias2k on 6/7/2012 5:03:53 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Can I hear you say Corvette Magnetic Ride Control? :)

Also, why do people like to bash new technologies without even giving it a chance?

Guess what, you might be as good as a race car driver (I highly doubt), but 95% of the people out there are not.

On that note, I can't wait for freaking self-driven cars.


RE: Shifter design
By alpha754293 on 6/7/2012 1:07:29 PM , Rating: 2
MR fluid has been around since the 70s.


RE: Shifter design
By nafhan on 6/7/2012 2:20:09 PM , Rating: 2
I think you're missing my point. BMW exists to make money. If people are willing to pay for an overcomplicated "magical fluid to prevent accidental shifts" shifter, it's worth it for BMW to invest money in developing it.

From a purely technical perspective, I absolutely agree with you, but you've still got to admit this is kind of cool.


RE: Shifter design
By FITCamaro on 6/7/2012 10:52:59 AM , Rating: 2
Hey I'm not saying don't develop it. I'm just saying I wouldn't want that much technology into what should be a fairly simple system.


RE: Shifter design
By nafhan on 6/7/2012 2:23:31 PM , Rating: 2
Certainly. I was more trying to say that somebody thinks this will be a feature that sells cars.


RE: Shifter design
By aebiv on 6/7/2012 11:41:21 AM , Rating: 2
From what I've seen of the average BMW driver in Cali, they need all the help they can get.


RE: Shifter design
By Drag0nFire on 6/7/2012 10:31:32 AM , Rating: 2
And yet it still happens... hilariously...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedd...


More gears for a CVT effect
By Beenthere on 6/7/2012 12:07:16 PM , Rating: 4
Car makers are using more gears to increase mpg as EPA requirements are impossible to meet and the EPA knows it. The good news is more gears means the engine can always be at the optimum torque range similar to a CVT without the reliability issues CVT's face with high output engines.

The bad news is hardly any car needs 7+ gears in a manual trans. In an auto or DCT application the electronics can do the job far better and faster than the person driving.

As far as mechanically over-revving the engine, yes incompetent drivers do this on track at HPDE events regularly. The magneto blocking fluid/design may be a crutch for those who don't have good driving skills, so it does have potential.

No one ever accused U.S. drivers of actually knowing how to drive.




RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By sigmatau on 6/7/2012 2:45:00 PM , Rating: 3
Wha..?

The 35mpg by 2018 thing scared you? Most makers have already beat that figure for their midsize cars available now or by 2013. The Nissan Altima gets 38 and thr Ford Fusion is the same or better. This is now. By 2018, new body styles will be implemented with even better gas mileage. Impossible? Maybe in your dreams.

We are finaly get higher mpg larger cars that consumers have been askingbfor 40+ years. You can thank the government for that one.


RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By Spuke on 6/7/2012 2:53:16 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
We are finaly get higher mpg larger cars that consumers have been askingbfor 40+ years.
I don't remember ANYONE asking for this until 2008. Sure as hell not in the last 40 years. BTW, you obviously don't know how CAFE is figured. I'll give you a hint, it has nothing to do with a cars EPA highway rating or any EPA mpg rating.


RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By sigmatau on 6/7/2012 4:48:10 PM , Rating: 3
And you must know absolutely nothing about anything. Consumers have been begging for better mpg since the last handfull of oil crises. Where have you been? 99+% of the market is nonethusiast.

Also your comment about the EPA's involvement is laughable at best.


RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By aebiv on 6/7/2012 7:09:38 PM , Rating: 1
99% of the market bought all those SUV's? Trucks? Cars with a V8 instead of a V6? Or with a V6 instead of a V4?

No, if 99% of the market truly cared that much about MPG, we'd all have Civics, Fiestas, and Escorts.


RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By sigmatau on 6/9/2012 2:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about?

SUVs, trucks, and cars with v6 are nonenthusiast vehicles.

Wow! Keep dreaming.


RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By Spuke on 6/8/2012 12:55:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also your comment about the EPA's involvement is laughable at best.
And you can't read either LOL! CAFE requirements have NOTHING to do with EPA fuel economy figures that are posted on that sticker on your car. PERIOD! Look it up.

Yes, I'm a car enthusiast, BUT WAIT, most of my cars have been 4 cylinders! Whaaa! Before it was fashionable, I always considered fuel economy in my cars. Never owned a car that had less than 28 mpg hwy. Broke that trend when I got married and the wife wanted horses (the only vehicles with more than 4 cyl I've owned).

Regardless, I don't look at the world with a niche point of view. That's something you can't do when you're married (because she's neither a nerd nor a car nut). The point is you're wrong, look at past sales. If people were begging fot that, The Ford F-series wouldn't be number 1 seller in the US for the past 30 years straight. Chevy trucks wouldn't be runner up. Another thing, people DO care about fuel economy. :) Take rates on the lower displacement cars are ALWAYS higher than the higher displacement one's. 4 cyl's sell more than V6's, V6's sell more than V8's, etc. It's always been that way.


RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By sigmatau on 6/9/2012 2:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't need to look up anything. Why would I since that is your pathetic argument. Kind of stupid don't you think?

BTW, you might need to learn to read your own posts. You went into one viscious circle and made no sense at all.


RE: More gears for a CVT effect
By Spuke on 6/7/2012 2:43:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No one ever accused U.S. drivers of actually knowing how to drive.
Word.


By Skywalker123 on 6/11/2012 4:08:47 AM , Rating: 1
No one ever accused you of having a brain


Hehe...
By Amiga500 on 6/7/2012 11:03:54 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Anyone that's accidentally grabbed second on a 4 to 3 shift at speed will appreciate that innovation.


Anyone going from 4th to 2nd when looking 3rd should be taken off the road immediately!!

Now... if you accidentally hit 3rd instead of 5th, or 2nd instead of 4th...




RE: Hehe...
By avxo on 6/7/2012 1:11:03 PM , Rating: 2
Right, that's exactly what I thought. I was reading along and then all of a sudden: "Wha? Wait what?"


RE: Hehe...
By tijag on 6/7/2012 6:34:00 PM , Rating: 2
I have forgotten what this article was about because when I read that line I just sat there with squinty eyes trying to imagine what kind of an idiot grabs second on accident when shifting to third.

If you do this, you are probably suffering a stroke and should seek immediate medical help. Otherwise, I call shenanigans, this pretty much can't happen.


RE: Hehe...
By johnsonx on 6/7/2012 7:05:58 PM , Rating: 2
presumably he just typed it backwards, meant "3 to 4".


By Aloonatic on 6/7/2012 10:16:57 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
The problem with adding more gates is that it becomes difficult for the driver to shift years and the potential for accidentally shifting into a lower gear and damaging the engine by over-rev grows.


This really is an advanced gear box, presumably inspired by a certain DeLorean :)




Why ?
By Gondor on 6/7/2012 3:33:00 PM , Rating: 3
I find six gear manuals to be somewhat excessive (use longer ranges if you have to ...), why go to 7 ? I understand that automatics might need an additional stage or two to operate more smoothly but humans generaly know how to drive their car, know when to use high RPM in lower gear (when overtaking etc.) or when to settle for low RPM in high gear (when cruising along the highway etc.), why the sudden urge for 7th gear ?




RE: Why ?
By Jackthegreen on 6/8/2012 9:49:28 PM , Rating: 2
I've likewise found 5 and 6 gears to be plenty for most drivers. There are a few times on the highway where I'd like a 6th gear for my Forester but it's not that big of a deal.

As far as what BMW is doing, they've probably done some research and found there's a market to help prevent bad shifting. Mostly it's having technology try to compensate for human stupidity. I'd say there are better ways of addressing this issue than what BMW is proposing, such as the various mechanical solutions already mentioned in these comments.


Not really relevant to the article...
By Jeremy87 on 6/7/2012 11:04:57 AM , Rating: 1
... but by own observation, the ratio between manuals and automatics out there in the wild is pretty much identical, only reverwed, in USA and Europe.
The only automatics I've actually been inside here are taxis and buses. I've driven a few automatics in the US, and it's horrible.




By Jackthegreen on 6/8/2012 9:51:07 PM , Rating: 2
Were those automatics horrible on their own, or because of the driver using them?


By tijag on 6/7/2012 5:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
How would you accidently grab 2nd on a 4 -> 3 downshift? That makes no sense to me.




By inperfectdarkness on 6/11/2012 2:58:20 AM , Rating: 2
I've never ran across someone who accidentally got 2nd while trying to shift into 3rd. 1st or 5th, sure, but not 2nd. You might want to take another look at the shift knob in your car if you can't understand this.




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