SOUTHAMPTON, UK - Ford will introduce a clutchless manual transmission on its new Transit.
Autoclutch was developed over two years in collaboration with AP Kongsberg, after a program of hot- and cold-climate testing and real world trials with customers. It competes with systems developed by Automotive Products for Renault, Valeo for Fiat, LUK GmbH for the Mercedes A-class, and Fichtel & Sachs for BMW.
The AP Kongsberg system will be available on Transits with the naturally aspirated 70hp and 75hp, 2.5-liter diesel engines. It is expected to appeal to short-haul and urban delivery firms. Ford researchers claim a typical urban delivery driver may press the clutch up to 1,200 times in a working day covering 250 deliveries over 150km.
Gears are selected in the normal way but the conventional manual clutch and actuating cable are replaced by an electronically controlled hydraulic system linked to an accelerator position sensor.
A sensor on the gear lever knob detects the pressure and automatically disengages the clutch. Limit switches in the gear lever assembly identify which gear is selected, and inform a control unit. A buzzer sounds if a wrong gear has been selected. When the Transit comes to a standstill, the clutch disengages at the optimum moment to provide maximum engine braking without stalling.