Kia has revealed details of its new clutch-by-wire technology that allows use of a conventional manual transmission with mild-hybrid and start-stop systems.
Modifying the traditional hydraulic system used to actuate clutches in manual cars – which is connected directly to the vehicle’s clutch pedal – Kia’s ‘intelligent manual transmission’ (iMT) places a module between the pedal and the hydraulics.
This lets the iMT control clutch engagement irrespective of driver input – much like electronic drive-by-wire systems that allows the vehicle computer to control the throttle.
Kia’s system can open or close the clutch depending on conditions, allowing use of mild-hybrid and start-stop technologies that would not normally be compatible with a manually-operated clutch.
Despite the actuation being computer-controlled, Kia says the pedal “retains the same operation and driver engagement as a conventional manual”. The brand also claims reduced CO2 emissions of approximately 3 per cent with the technology.
The iMT technology debuts on the mild-hybrid face-lifted European Kia Rio due later this year, however Australia misses out on the powertrain option.
Kia says the transmission will “be adopted across a number of future Kia models”.