BMW Patent Shows Seven-Speed Manual Transmission in the Works
June 7, 2012 10:02 AM
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
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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