Kia also announced a new manual gearbox for its forthcoming mild-hybrid vehicles, utilizing an electrical rather than mechanical coupling. The Korean company says that the new Intelligent Manual Transmission (iMT) promises improved fuel economy and better interaction with passengers.
The iMT will be combined in the Ceed hatchback and XCeed crossover with the 1.6-liter 48V mild-hybrid diesel powertrain, which will also be used on the revamped Rio 1.0-liter mild-hybrid petrol variant. This will also be added to other Kia models and would in turn have an electrified 48V powertrain.
The system replaces the traditional mechanical clutch connection with an electronic wired connection, which is then integrated into the 48V powertrain system MHEV (Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicle). It acts with the starter motor of the mild-hybrid to turn off the engine when coasting – when maintaining the chosen gear engaged – which Kia says improves fuel economy and decreases CO2 pollution in real-world environments by up to three per cent.
The iMT framework was established at the European technical centre of the Hyundai Motor Group in Germany, with a special emphasis on the European market owing to the continuing success of the manual gearboxes. Kia’s powertrain boss, Michael Winkler, said manuals still accounted for more than half of the Korean company’s sales in Europe.
“Manual gearboxes are a real driver for Europe so we wanted to look at how a manual transmission can be electrified,” Winkler said. “When we look at the global picture, we do see strong demand for manual gearboxes, so we see a great gain in being able to sell a 48V electrified network manual transmission.
“While the system boosts real-world economy, it’s not all about efficiency but driver comfort: the 48V system , for example, provides a smoother stop-start system. The downside for consumers is that they don’t have to do something else: the device always does.
In the lead up to the festive season, the Kia Sonet that is scheduled to launch in India will also get an iMT manual gearbox. Whether the Sonet will be getting a mild-hybrid powertrain when it arrives in India is not yet known, which means we will have to wait for confirmation as to whether it will get this mild-hybrid iMT unit.