"Simplify, then add lightness." Those are the famous words spoken by Sir Colin Chapman, the father of Lotus and one of the automotive world's great geniuses. Speaking of genius, the dual-clutch transmission (at a sane price point) is a major step forward. It combines the automaticness of an automatic with the manualness of a manual and the speed of a bullet. The trouble is, dual-clutches are complex and heavy. But what if the company Colin built had their way? What if you could simplify a dual-clutch, and make it lighter?
"What if" indeed. Lotus has reportedly filed a patent application for some sort of dual-clutch. We say "some sort" because not only are we not patent attorneys, the "oily bits" in a dual-clutch are a little bit Greek to us. Besides, patent apps are meant to be a bit vague – they don't want to give too much away. Anyhow, long story short – do we want a track-burning Exige that can swap gears in mere milliseconds? Yes, we most certainly do. Text of the application after the jump.
With reference to Figure 2, the present invention provides a transmission unit comprising: a first set of shaft-mounted input gears (206, 207, 208, 209) each of which meshes with a respective one of a first set of shaft-mounted output gears (220, 221, 222, 223); a second set of shaft- mounted input gears (210, 211, 212, 213) each of which meshes with a respective one of a second set of shaft- mounted output gears (224, 225, 226, 227); a first clutch (215) associated with the first set of input gears (206, 207, 208, 209); and a second clutch (216) associated with the second set of input gears and the second set of output gears (210, 211, 212, 213). At least one of each meshed pair of input and output gears can freely rotate on the shaft on which the gear is mounted and a gear ratio selection mechanism (231) is provided to select a gear ratio by locking a freely rotatable gear to the shaft on which the gear is mounted. In use of 'the transmission unit (200) either the first clutch (215) is engaged and the second clutch disengaged (216) and drive is transmitted via a selected pair of the first set of input and output gears or the second clutch (216) is engaged and the first clutch (215) disengaged and drive is transmitted via a selected pair of the second set of input and output gears.