Dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) are set to make the terms "automatic" and "manual" obsolete as they apply to conventional gearboxes - at least in Europe.
That's why Borg-Warner has just broken ground in France for the company's new DCT ("DualTronic", in B-W lingo, although VWAG brands B-W's transmission with the better-known term DSG) manufacturing plant.
For those not familiar with the technology, it uses a pair of clutch packs and input shafts that transfer torque from one to the other during shifts. In this manner, they hand off torque during a shift much like a modern automatic, and the occupants of the vehicle perceive very little interruption in power delivery. DCTs are lighter and more efficient than traditional automatics, and they also are said to cost perhaps 10% less. This makes them very attractive to manufacturers and users of small cars, especially those who are getting fed up with using manuals in European traffic.
We'll see a few transmissions of this type in the US, as well (and quite possibly in a few unexpected applications),
and consumer acceptance will determine whether they start taking a significant bite out of automatic transmission
sales. Obviously, the clutch assemblies in these transmissions are far more complex than the standard single-plate dry
clutch of a conventional manual, and that's where Borg-Warner's friction plate expertise is likely to give the company
a competitive advantage in this new market segment.