Wednesday, August 12, 2020
News What's This Kia Clutch-by-Wire Manual Gearbox For Hybrid Vehicles Everyone Is Talking...

What’s This Kia Clutch-by-Wire Manual Gearbox For Hybrid Vehicles Everyone Is Talking About?

Kia has developed a new shift-by-wire manual gearbox that can work with hybrid vehicles, and people have been talking about it for two months.

  • The Kia Rio will offer a manual gearbox paired to a hybrid powertrain in Europe

  • The new technology was unveiled on the redesigned Kia Rio back in May


The redesigned Kia Rio in Europe will feature an available hybrid powertrain, but the big news is that this hybrid engine will be available with a manual gearbox.

It’s not just any manual gearbox, either. The system uses a unique “clutch-by-wire” system that allows a computer the control the clutch in certain situations, but also gives the driver the same feeling as a traditional manual. You still control the clutch with your left foot and you still row through the gears.

In other words, there’s no physical connection like a cable or hydraulic system connected to the clutch. It is replaced by what Kia calls the Intelligent Manual Transmission. The IMT is electronically connected to the new Rio’s 48-volt electrical system.

Kia IMT intelligent manual transmission
Kia IMT intelligent manual transmission | Photo: Kia

The system can essentially activate the clutch in certain situations such as when the hybrid system kicks in or when the start/stop system is engaged. This wouldn’t be possible in a traditional manual where the clutch needs to be activated when the combustion engine shuts down or restarts.

More than just allowing a hybrid powertrain to pair with a manual, the IMT also promises to make the transition between the electric and gas engines and the operation of the start/stop system smoother. It will also reduce C02 emissions by 3 percent according to Kia.

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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