Here is an overview of how the dual dry clutch transmission works and what it does for the driving experience.
When the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth was unveiled last November, conspicuously absent was any mention of an automatic type gearbox. However, buried deep inside Fiat are plans to produce dual dry clutch (DDC) transmissions suitable for A and B segment cars. We've explored these plans in the past (go here), but now that the new 2013 Dodge Dart will be available with the Alfa TCT (Twin Clutch Transmission), let's revisit the story.
In Europe, the Alfa TCT dual dry clutch transmission (C635 TCT) is considered the class benchmark for its ratio between performance, fuel consumption and emissions.
This cutting edge transmission is spec'd out for cars larger than the Fiat 500, however, there are two smaller DDC transmissions developed by Fiat Powertrain Technologies that could fit the Fiat 500, as well as other A and B segment cars.
The first is a seven speed DDC transmission with a torque capacity of up to 140lbs.ft. (190Nm). This is suitable for Fiat 500 models with TwinAir, 1.2 liter, 1.4 liter and 1.3 liter MultiJet engines, plus the NAFTA Fiat 500 if Fiat so desires (the NAFTA 500 is available with an Aisin manufactured, conventional 6 speed, torque converter equipped auto trans).
The other DDC transmission is called the C625 TCT. This unit has a much higher torque capacity of between 148-184 lb.-ft. (200-250 Nm) and would be ideally suited for the US Fiat 500 Abarth's 170 lb.-ft (231Nm) torque rating. So far, there has been no mention of any future transmission options available for the Fiat 500 Abarth, but keep this info in mind.
Not much has surfaced about these smaller DDC transmissions other than the story I did back in June 2010 and in a few postings mainly on Italian sites, however there was a brief announcement in Automotive News last summer saying that Fiat will begin building DDC transmissions in China in 2013.
The manufacturing will occur at Hangzhou Haveco Automotive Transmission Co; a joint venture equally owned by Fiat, Guangzhou Auto and Hangzhou Advance Gearbox Group Co. Hangzhou Advance Gearbox Group Co is the largest gearbox manufacturer in China and produces transmissions for a wide variety of applications from light duty all the way to heavy marine transmissions for cruise ships.
The plan is for these new sophisticated transmission types to replace the older, cheaper Dualogic automated manual gearboxes used wherever the NAFTA Fiat 500 isn't sold. The A and B segment are extremely price competitive and to make the DDC transmission a viable option, Fiat set a goal to have the DDCT achieve the same manufacturing cost as the Dualogic. The plant in China should help Fiat reach this goal.
At this time, it is unknown which dual dry clutch transmissions will be built in China; the larger C635 TCT or the smaller units or a combination of both. We'll continue to keep tabs on this story as it goes a long.
Sources: Automotive News, Fiat SpA