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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fiat Dual Dry Clutch Transmission Making Its Way to the US

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.

Alfa Romeo TCT shifter

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.

Fiat Powertrain C635TCT Dual Dry Clutch transmission

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


Anonymous said...

Hope this is one of the signs that an automatic transmission will eventually come to the US Abarth 500. Both myself and my wife have locked our eyes on it as our next car. But it will be a car we both can share, and she only drives an AT, while we both appreciate the extra punch the Abarth has over the regular 500. This DDCT sure sounds like a nice upgrade, and fingers cross it will happen to the Abarth 500.

Anonymous said...

A sport car can only be driven with manual transmission...or you loose all the fun...

Anonymous said...

Trust me,an automatic Abarth will sell truckloads !

Anonymous said...

While I agree it is more fun to drive a MT(I drives MT), I feel that the performance of the Abarth 500 is not quite in the market where it should exclude all AT drivers/buyers. It is not a high power high speed class, and its main competitor is Mini Cooper S. But when the Cooper S offers AT, Fiat is losing a lot of potential AT Abarth buyers in the market if they don't step up. Pure performance driver will look elsewhere for a pure performance car, while the Abarth falls into somewhere right inbetween, a fun economy car with some performance. And this is where a big need of AT is, in order to make the Abarth 500 competitive in sales.

MT enthusiasts can still enjoy it the way they want it. But don't rule out the chance for others that need this car as an AT, for whatever practical purposes they may have.

David the Gyromancer said...

I have been following the production of Dodge Dart, with a modified version of the TCT (635 model), which I understand will be manufactured in Italy, along with the 1.4 liter Multi Air Turbo which is the only available engine option with this transmission. Seems they are not yet in production, but expected sometime in the next 30 days. From videos on youtube about the Alfa version, the claim is made that a turbo equipped small sedan like the Dart will get better gas mileage with the "DDCT" than with a manual. If that's true, I think this could be quite a hot selling car over time. Any info about Chrysler/Fiat's plans for this technology most welcome.

Anonymous said...

Ok, it's now 2013. Where is the automatic for the Abarth and the 500t?

I'm in the same position of having to share the car with wife who doesn't drive manual. Fiat is losing sales by not having an automatic 500t especially. I have been waiting a looong time but my interest is starting to wane. Is there any other small car model without an automatic trans? Fiat you are adding a new model every month it seems. Please, an automatic before you bring out the new 500 dump truck.

Anonymous said...

Although I have driven manual transmission cars (now 20)ever since HS I am now determining I had enough and want an automatic. I am very interested in a 500ABARTH but will only do so if I can get an a 6 spd DSG type automatic. Fiat offers it in their 695 version Abarths in why not in the USA? No excuses sinces this is a huge limitation to the sale of the ABARTH. If not seeing it soon I will go to a GTI. said...

The European Abarth does not use a DSG trans. It is an automated manual gearbox, however after testing, it was determined not to be suitable for this market. I agree though, that there should be an automatic type transmission available for the car. We'll see...

jonny said...

dct abarth will be nice for a spinal cord injury(t5-t6) person like myself.

Curmudgeon said...

A number of folks disparage the dual clutch transmission. Probably because they have never driven VW GTI equipped with the DSG (VW's wet clutch dual clutch transmission).

If Fiat can manage a dual clutch that works as well as the VW unit then I would buy an Abarth in a heartbeat.

If however, they continue with a slow-shifting mess as found in the Dodge Dart 1.4 Turbo, then Forget It Again, Tony.