In Europe, the majority of transmissions are manuals, but the increasing efficiency and shift feel of many non-manual transmissions is resulting in a slow move away from manuals, as people discover the convenience they can offer.
Dual Clutch Transmissions (DCT) in particular are quite efficient, so they form part of this growth, although in many cases the manual options still offer better CO2 emissions (at least in the official drive cycles). What seems to be driving much of the growth of DCTs in Europe is the ‘fun factor’, which drivers experience. The result is that DCTs are being considered by OEMs for mid-size vehicles (B-D Segments), but classic torque converter autos are being retained for many of the larger vehicles, where a smoother shifting experience is more aligned to customer expectations.
The exceptions to this ‘generalization’ are the sports cars and supercars, where once again, the fun factor becomes paramount. So, the Bugatti Veyron has always been 100% DCT, Ferrari is now 100% DCT, Porsche has a significant penetration of DCTs, and the Audi R8 will soon be mainly DCT.
But, and there is always a but, developing a DCT is not easy, and several OEMs have failed, or are struggling to get their DCTs to function in a way which is acceptable to the customers.
Like all transmissions, we can expect to see a proliferation of forward gears on DCTs, so expect to see 8-speed, and possibly even 9-speed DCTs in the next few years.
The volumes below relate to light-duty passenger vehicles produced in Central and Western Europe. Getting vehicle sales by transmission type in Europe is almost impossible, but we can assume that most vehicles produced in Europe are sold in Europe, so it is a fair approximation.
|Light Duty Vehicle Production in Western and Central Europe|
|(Includes all passenger vehicles, but excludes all vans/small trucks)|
|Source: IHS Automotive|
|Total Vehicle Production||14,689,655||16,614,059||18,032,110|
|Vehicles fitted with DCTs||1,474,689||2,253,177||2,744,718|
|DCT Penetration (%)||10.0||13.6||15.2|
Perhaps a more telling way to look at the DCT market is to look at the penetration of DCTs as a share of the non-manual transmissions. This gives penetrations of 29% in 2010, 40% by 2016 and 43% by 2020.