In what can be termed as a big surprise, Hyundai Motor India Limited (HMIL) today announced the upcoming introduction of Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) in its Venue sub-compact SUV in July 2020. For long, it was believed that the Kia Sonet will be the first model to introduce this transmission in India at the time of its launch, which is expected before the festival season this year. The Kia Sonet was showcased at the Auto Expo 2020 and will rival the Hyundai Venue, Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Ford EcoSport and the Mahindra XUV 300. Taking lead from Kia, Hyundai will now launch the Venue equipped with the IMT in the month of July 2020.
Launching the iMT with the Venue first instead of the Sonet could be significantly beneficial for Hyundai as IMT was widely being considered to be one of the USPs of the Sonet. That said, there’s still a lot of action to unfold as the launch of the Venue IMT and the Kia Sonet are yet to happen and the prices too are yet to be announced. The key question, however, is that why is the IMT creating so much buzz and how different will it be from a manual transmission or an automatic or even an AMT unit. Here’s a brief look into the technology and what drivers can expect from it.
Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) Explained
On the face of it, the IMT is like any other automatic transmission as it doesn’t feature a clutch pedal. Hence, with just two pedals drivers can enjoy the convenience of a clutchless drive but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Unlike a torque converter, Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) or a Dual-Clutch Transmission (DCT) the IMT is not an automatic transmission. The IMT instead is a manual transmission modified to function without clutch inputs from the driver. While this might sound similar to the technology of an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) it is very different in reality.
In simple words, the IMT will have an actuated clutch internally but no clutch pedal and will offer the option of manual shifting of gears but without the need to operate a clutch. Manual shifting will be done by drivers in the traditional ‘H’ pattern, thereby ensuring the excitement of driving a manual is not diluted. At the same time, the convenience of not operating a clutch will ensure lesser fatigue in dense traffic conditions.
Speaking about the introduction of the iMT in the Hyundai Venue, SS Kim, MD & CEO, Hyundai Motor India Ltd. said, “Hyundai has been driving the adoption of new and innovative technologies at scale. With our ‘Future Ready’ business strategy, we have been continuously striving for customer delight with Human-centric technologies that present our innate understanding of what our customers’ desire. iMT is one such technology that accounts for the pleasure of driving and also the convenience needed to ease the hectic burden of daily commutes.
The iMT transmission will use a new feature which Hyundai calls Transmission Gear Shift (TGS) Lever with an Intention Sensor. When the driver touches the Intention Sensor placed on the shift lever, the Transmission Control Unit receives a signal that the driver wishes to change gears. This engages the hydraulic actuator to actuate the clutch. This is managed by a Concentric Slave Cylinder (CSC) through a Clutch Tube. The CSC uses the pressure generated by the actuator to control the clutch and pressure plate which engages and disengages the clutch. With this new IMT system, the driver can shift gears without the need to mechanically operate the clutch pedal.
The IMT has been a point of discussion ever since its introduction was announced in the Kia Sonet as it could provide the convenience of no clutch without sacrificing the driving pleasure of a manual and all this while not having to pay as much as a traditional automatic gearbox. The AMT also follows a similar approach but is also known to kill driving pleasure due to the lag between gear shifts, also known as head nods.
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