If there’s one thing wrong with manual gearboxes it’s the fact they’re an absolute pain in the backside to drive through stop-start traffic – all that clutch stomping and lever shoving is enough to drive you to distraction. Luckily for our collective sanity, Bosch has developed a new eClutch system that eliminates the need to use the clutch when stopping or starting in first gear.
With eClutch, drivers simply use the brake and accelerator pedal, just like with an automatic transmission, and the vehicle will never stall. eClutch independently decouples the engine from the transmission whenever the driver lifts off the accelerator at low speed, before stopping the engine when the vehicle rolls to a standstill.
What price convenience? Not a lot, actually. eClutch reportedly costs significantly less than a full-blown automatic transmission, mainly because the system automates the clutch only, and not the transmission itself.
Bosch suggests the system could even save motorists up to ten per cent on average.
Because eClutch detects the driver easing pressure on the accelerator and decouples the engine from the transmission, it prevents the engine consuming as much fuel. Future versions of eClutch will detect when the car is travelling downhill, disengage the clutch and stop the engine before re-engaging it all when the car levels out.
eClutch serves a further purpose of eliminating jerky gear shifts in higher gears. A sensor detects the start of a gear shift and adjusts the engine speed, making gear changes smooth. It can also, according to Bosch, allow manual transmissions to be installed in hybrid cars, which has the benefit of reducing the price of entry-level hybrids, since fully automated transmissions are no longer required.
Bosch hasn’t said which manufacturers, if any, will install the system in their cars, but bearing in mind its systems are already incredibly widespread, it wouldn’t surprise us to see this cropping up everywhere in the not too distant future.