How Dual-clutch Transmissions Work


Dual-clutch Transmissions: Past, Present and Future
Porsche 962
Porsche 962

The man who invented the dual-clutch gearbox was a pioneer in automotive engineering. Adolphe Kégresse is best known for developing the half-track, a type of vehicle equipped with endless rubber treads allowing it to drive off-road over various forms of terrain. In 1939, Kégresse conceived the idea for a dual-clutch gearbox, which he hoped to use on the legendary Citroën "Traction" vehicle. Unfortunately, adverse business circumstances prevented further development. ­

Both Audi and Porsche picked up on the dual-clutch concept, although its use was limited at first to racecars. The 956 and 962C racecars included the Porsche Dual Klutch, or PDK. In 1986, a Porsche 962 won the Monza 1000 Kilometer World Sports Prototype Championship race -- the first win for a car equipped with the PDK semi-automatic paddle-shifted transmission. Audi also made history in 1985 when a Sport quattro S1 rally car equipped with dual-clutch transmission won the Pikes Peak hill climb, a race up the 4,300-meter-high mountain.

Commercialization of the dual-clutch transmission, however, has not been feasible until recently. Volkswagen has been a pioneer in dual-clutch transmissions, licensing BorgWarner's DualTronic technology. European automobiles equipped with DCTs include the Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Touran, and Jetta as well as the Audi TT and A3; the Skoda Octavia; and the Seat Altea, Toledo and Leon.

Volkswagon Jetta 2.0
Photo courtesy VM Media Room

Ford is the second major manufacturer to commit to dual-clutch transmissions, made by Ford of Europe and its 50/50 joint venture transmission manufacturer, GETRAG-Ford. It demonstrated the Powershift System, a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, at the 2005 Frankfurt International Motor Show. However, production vehicles using a first generation Powershift are approximately two years away.

For lots more information on dual-clutch transmissions and related topics, check out the links below.

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Sources

  • Adams, Eric, et al. "The Popular Science Automotive Buyer's Guide: Managing Power - Transmission," Popular Science, July 2005.
  • Amoroso, Frank. "2004 Audi TT 3.2: Got Smooth? Got DSG?" AudiWorld, January 17, 2004. http://www.audiworld.com/features/tests/2004tt32.shtml
  • Audi World Site http://www.audi.com/audi/com/en1/new_cars/technology/ drive___suspension/dsg/technology_and_details.html
  • "DSG and CVT: Which will prevail?" CARToday.com, July 5, 2005. http://www.cartoday.com/content/news/singlepage.asp?in=7312
  • "European interest in dual-clutch technology shifts up a gear," Just-auto.com, December 2, 2005. http://www.just-auto.com/features_detail.asp?art=1171
  • Erjavec, Jack. "Automotive Technology: A Systems Approach." New York: Thomson Delmar Learning. 2005.
  • Kluger, Michael and Bapiraju Surampudi. "Smooth in the clutch." Southwest Research Institute, Summer 2004. http://www.swri.edu/3pubs/ttoday/Summer04/Clutch.htm
  • Thomas, Mike. "Ford of Europe puts dual clutch transmissions into high gear." Ford Newsroom, February 13, 2006. http://media.ford.com/newsroom/feature_display.cfm?release=22361
  • "Twin-Clutch Gearbox," AutoZine Technical School, 2003. http://www.autozine.org/technical_school/gearbox/tech_gear_manual.htm
  • Visnic, Bill. "Teaching an old tranny new tricks: BorgWarner breathes next-generation life into the manual transmission," WardsAuto.com, December 1, 2000. http://wardsautoworld.com/ar/auto_tech_trends_4/index.html
  • "The sporty direct shift gearbox." AudiWorld, August 27, 2003. http://www.audiworld.com/news/03/082703/content.shtml

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