This could be a game-changer.
One of the toughest parts of developing hybrid systems for passenger vehicles is efficiency. The less resistance there is from the aerodynamics of the car and the drivetrain, the further the car will travel on a tank of gas. One area where energy is often sucked up before it's used to drive the car is the transmission.
In a bold press release from Hyundai, the automaker declares it has been working on that problem and has developed the world's first Active Shift Control Transmission for hybrid cars. According to Hyundai, the in-house developed technology improves gear-shift efficiency overall and shift times by 30%. That's a particularly bold claim when you consider how automatic and paddle-shift gearboxes have only been getting incrementally faster over the years. Reading through the specifications and looking at the technology though, it does look like Hyundai could be onto something.
The company tells us that active shift control (ASC) "optimizes transmission efficiency by monitoring gear shifts 500 times per second, precisely adjusting the transmission rotation speed to for faster shift times." In essence, ASC uses new logic control software with the Hybrid Control Unit to control the electric motor and align the rotational speeds of the engine and transmission to reduce the time it takes for gears to shift. The claim is that it not only reduces the time to shift dramatically but that the shifts are smoother as well. On top of all that, Hyundai tells us that because the shifts generate so little friction, the durability of the transmission is also increased.
The new technology is scheduled to debut with the 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and will then roll out in other Hyundai and Kia hybrids in the future. How this will stack up against CVT (continuously variable transmissions) transmissions that, by definition, change ratio without changing gear is something we'll be interested to see.