Kia details its new clutch-by-wire intelligent Manual Transmission for mild hybrid petrol, diesel powertrains

Kia details its new clutch-by-wire intelligent Manual Transmission for mild hybrid petrol, diesel powertrains

Kia has revealed more details about its new intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT), which uses a “clutch-by-wire” system for use in a range of mild hybrid vehicles. The transmission has already been introduced to the 2020 i30 and Rio facelifts, and will soon make its way to other models with the latest mild hybrid petrol and diesel engines.

These include the Ceed in Europe, which will gain new EcoDynamics+ variants, powered by a 1.6 litre CRDi diesel engine. Later in the year, other Kia models, with a range of new engines and mild hybrid powertrains will adopt the transmission as well.

Instead of a mechanical linkage, the clutch on Kia’s iMT uses an electronic wired connection integrated into the 48-volt mild hybrid system and works with the mild-hybrid starter-generator (MHSG) unit.

Kia details its new clutch-by-wire intelligent Manual Transmission for mild hybrid petrol, diesel powertrains

The benefit here is ability to switch off the engine earlier than Kia’s Idle Stop & Go start-stop system when coasting to a halt. This improves overall fuel efficiency and can reduce CO2 emissions by around 3% in real-world driving conditions.

On a step-by-step basis, when a driver is coming up to a corner or junction, he or she can leave the car in-gear as it starts to coast, gently slowing the car down. The iMT detects this and sends an electronic signal to the gearbox and MHSG to seamlessly switch off the engine and decouples the clutch.

With the engine switched off, the car will continue coasting, with the open clutch limiting deceleration and allowing the car to make the most of its kinetic energy. When the driver pushes the accelerator to pick up speed, or engages the clutch to change gear, the MHSG restarts the engine in the driver’s selected gear, or in neutral (with an open clutch).

Kia details its new clutch-by-wire intelligent Manual Transmission for mild hybrid petrol, diesel powertrains

At this point, electric power from the MHSG and 48-volt battery brings the engine and transmission up to the correct speed. Should the car drop below a certain speed, the engine restarts with assistance from the mild hybrid system, and the clutch closes, to avoid labouring the engine in the engaged gear.

Kia says the clutch pedal operates in the same manner as a conventional manual, but with greater controllability due to the electromechanical control of the clutch and a “biting point” that enables drivers to change gears smoothly.

It adds that the technology is necessary despite automatic or double-clutch transmission suiting most drivers, as a good number of its European customers (around 50%) are still fans of the manual.

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Gerard Lye

Originating from the corporate world with a background in finance and economics, Gerard’s strong love for cars led him to take the plunge into the automotive media industry. It was only then did he realise that there are more things to a car than just horsepower count.



  • Semi-Value (Member) on Jun 25, 2020 at 12:13 pm

    good on you Kia

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  • vivizurianti on Jun 25, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Everything now drive by this, drive by that, intelligent this and that. Auto this, guidance that, etc. Computer processors kawtim almost everything.

    Drivers senang-lenang sit in their cars. Wonder what will happen to driving in 20 years in the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
    • Monana on Jun 25, 2020 at 3:10 pm

      Try to search “openpilot” dated from the last 2-3 months from Youtube. Whereas in Malaysia, we always afraid of such tech. Hybrid pun olang takut nk pakai.

      It might be bcoz of our cars are expensive. But, I never met Wira left behind after breakdown eventhough the price is very cheap.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  • Danielkwang Enterprise on Jun 25, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    More future business for me in the near future when the system breaks down after warranty as most mechanics will not be able to fix but how many KIA owners are willing to pay Continental maintenance prices. Even Mercedes Smart car owners keep repairing their clutch actuators well after their expiry dates. The owners do not understand modern cars parts are not designed to last the life of the car.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

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