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 Volkswagon Jetta 2.0
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

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  • Kluger, Michael and Bapiraju Surampudi. "Smooth in the clutch." Southwest Research Institute, Summer 2004. http://www.swri.edu/3pubs/ttoday/Summer04/Clutch.htm
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  • "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