Clutchless Manual Transmission & IMT: How Does It Work?

What is a Clutchless Manual Transmission or IMT? The clutchless manual transmission is a new-gen type of gearbox or transmission system developed by automobile manufacturers. Hyundai Motors call it the clutchless manual transmission while Kia …

Clutchless Manual Transmission

What is a Clutchless Manual Transmission or IMT?

The clutchless manual transmission is a new-gen type of gearbox or transmission system developed by automobile manufacturers. Hyundai Motors call it the clutchless manual transmission while Kia Motors named it IMT. However, both work on the same principle. The term IMT stands for Intelligent Manual Transmission. According to Kia Motors, this system is not an AMT. The IMT differs from the traditional automated manual transmissions (AMT) used in recent times. However, this is not the first of its kind technology. Back in the late ’90s, Swedish carmaker, Saab had designed a somewhat similar system. Saab 900 featured Sensonic transmission also provided a manual shift lever without a clutch pedal. Saab 9000 even featured a joystick instead of a steering wheel. However, it was way ahead of its time and none of them materialized.

Clutchless Manual Transmission IMT
Clutchless manual Transmission IMT

Basically, the system combines the benefits of manual and automatic gearboxes. Unlike conventional design, a car with a clutchless manual transmission does not have the clutch pedal at all. IMT is just like any other automatic transmission but without a clutch pedal. This system allows the driver to change gears manually but without the need to use a clutch pedal. The system has the manual gear stick or gear shifting lever as it is. To engage a gear in conventional design, the driver would normally have to press the clutch. And then, he would move the gear shift stick to the desired gear. However, in clutchless manual transmission, the clutch pedal is not there. This leaves your left foot to rest on the floor. There is no clutch pedal to be pressed. You only need to change gears with the lever as you normally do.

How IMT Works?

In IMT, Hyundai uses a Transmission Gear Shift (TGS) feature which has a lever with an Intention Sensor. When the driver touches the Intention Sensor located on the shift lever, the Transmission Control Unit receives a signal that the driver wishes to change gears. This engages a hydraulic actuator to actuate the clutch. A Clutch Tube manages the Concentric Slave Cylinder (CSC). The CSC uses the pressure caused by the actuator to control the clutch and pressure plate which engages and disengages the clutch. With this new IMT system, the driver can change gears without having to mechanically operate the clutch pedal.

Clutchless Manual Transmission Construction:

This system will have a traditional H-pattern manual gear lever just like a manual transmission. However, it will not have a clutch pedal although it will have the brake & accelerator pedals. This system totally eliminates the clutch pedal. The clutchless manual transmission uses various sensors to monitor the engine speed as well as the position on the gear lever and automatically engages the clutch when needed. According to Kia Motors, the system is “Clutch-less” which means without the clutch-pedal. However, it is not necessarily without the clutch mechanism itself. Only the clutch pedal is absent from the driver’s footwell. A mechanical clutch in the drivetrain still exists internally. However, it is being operated electronically instead of manually.

Advantages of IMT:

Clutchless Manual Transmission or Intelligent Manual Transmission helps to reduce the stress on the driver’s left foot especially in heavy traffic conditions. The passionate drivers can enjoy driving a car with a manual gearbox and change gears while having the feeling of a manual shifter. They can also drive without worrying to press the clutch pedal with their left foot. Besides, according to Kia, the system will provide very high fuel efficiency.

Intelligent Manual Transmission (IMT)
Intelligent Manual Transmission (IMT)
  1. Since there is NO clutch pedal, you don’t need to press clutch manually. The system does it automatically.
  2. So, you just need to use brake and accelerator pedals.
  3. Even if you come to a halt, the system will keep the engine running without you needing to do anything.
  4. With the clutchless manual transmission, your clutch life will be more or less the same. However, it depends upon your driving style (Average or Aggressive) and driving conditions (Stop & Go Traffic), etc.
  5. You will be able to start on a slope without any issues with the help of the Hill Start Assist function.
  6. In normal driving conditions, you should be able to shift quickly as you could just like in normal manual transmission.

Images Courtesy: Hyundai, Kia

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