Skip advert
Advertisement

Ford developing clutchless manual gearbox for ICE cars

Patents reveal that Ford is working on a new type of manual gearbox that does away with the clutch pedal

Ford manual gearbox

Ford has filed a patent for a clutchless manual transmission for combustion-engined cars, featuring an automated clutch action that does without a third pedal. The driver can also override the automatic clutch function through a pressure-sensitive gear lever.

In the patent files, the gearbox is described as being ‘mounted to the engine block’, indicating that this solution is intended for ICE cars, rather than being a ‘virtual’ manual gearbox for an electric vehicle, similar to the one Toyota has filed patents for.

The system allows the user to change gear simply by moving the gear lever, while an electric actuator operates the clutch. The clutch operation is initiated by pressure sensors in the gear knob, which detect when it is gripped to anticipate the next gear change. The system then calculates the correct clutch actuation based on the next gear ratio and the car’s wheel speed.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Ford’s clutchless manual gearbox can also be used for fast gearshifts thanks to the pressure sensors. Instead of the clutch operating when the gear lever is moved, it can respond when the driver initially grips it, which gives the system more time to operate the clutch during a fast gear change. 

With this new transmission, Ford hopes to simplify the manual gearbox while retaining the most enjoyable aspect – the act of changing gear itself – to improve its popularity. The patent mentions that the automated clutch improves the more “cumbersome” aspects of driving a manual car, such as crawling in traffic.

However, the driver can still take control of the clutch if required, albeit through less than conventional means. The gear knob is deformable and pressure-sensitive, allowing the user to control clutch actuation by squeezing it. There’s also an anti-stall algorithm, whereby the car will override the driver’s poor squeezing action by taking control of the clutch itself. 

Other manufacturers have trialled clutchless manual gearboxes in the past, most notably Mercedes with the original A-Class hatchback. Ford’s system is far more advanced than previous efforts, although whether it will reach production remains to be seen.

Manual vs automatic gearboxes - which should you choose?

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Ford threatens to restrict petrol car sales to meet the UK’s EV targets
Ford Mustang Mach E GT
News

Ford threatens to restrict petrol car sales to meet the UK’s EV targets

Ford boss says ICE prices could rise as it seeks to dodge looming ZEV mandate penalty fines
9 May 2024
10 surprising things made by car companies, that aren't cars
Things made by car manufacturers - header
Features

10 surprising things made by car companies, that aren't cars

The world’s biggest auto manufacturers have many strings to their bows...
6 May 2024
UK new car buyers love a Mercedes-Benz but Ford is favourite when used
Mercedes A-Class - front cornering
News

UK new car buyers love a Mercedes-Benz but Ford is favourite when used

Data from YouGov’s BrandIndex shows that Mercedes-Benz is a top choice with new car buyers, with used buyers favouring Ford
2 May 2024
Best new cars coming in 2024
Best new cars coming in 2024 - header image
Best cars & vans

Best new cars coming in 2024

There are some big new models from the likes of BMW, Citroen, Dacia, Ford, MINI, Skoda and more on the way in 2024
12 Mar 2024

Most Popular

Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed
Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 - EQS badge
News

Mercedes says ‘no thank you’ to EQ: EV brand to be axed

Mercedes will roll back EQ branding for its electric cars as the first generation of EV models reaches the end of its lifecycle.
15 May 2024
Ooh la la: new DS flagship to get inspiration from world’s coolest car
DS flagship - exclusive image
News

Ooh la la: new DS flagship to get inspiration from world’s coolest car

The iconic Citroen DS was voted the world’s coolest car by our readers and now DS is aiming for the same success with its new premium flagship
15 May 2024
UK faces “epidemic” of young uninsured drivers
Car crash
News

UK faces “epidemic” of young uninsured drivers

The number of young people convicted of driving without insurance has tripled since 2021, due to sky-rocketing premiums
17 May 2024