Electric motors will also invade transmissions. And replace the clutches

When we say electric engines and electronics are making a revolution in the automotive world, it is way more widespread than it may seem. They will replace not only the internal combustion engine (ICE), but also some other components we could never imagine. Such as the clutch, or clutches, when we think of a double-clutch automated transmission. Dan Dorsch, a Ph.D candidate from the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), has done so. And his invention has given him the Lemelson-MIT “Drive it!” Prize. The video below reveals more details on his clutchless transmission.

If you did not have patience to watch the video, we can tell you what’s in there. Dorsch has been defied by a high performance European carmaker. He had to develop a transmission that could both deliver high performance and fuel efficiency. Most transmissions focus on only one of these aspects.


Replacing the clutches

The solution he found was to replace the clutches with two electric engines. The first one avoids the acceleration lag that happens when the accelerator is released and the clutch is activated. The second one matches the speed of the selected gear to the engine. The big secret of this transmission is the way its electronics manage to make everything run perfectly. Dorsch will soon file a patent for a transmission with a single electric engine.


Since it is hybrid, the electric motors of the transmission can power the car in urban situations, lowering emissions. And make fast and seamless shifts, ensuring the high performance that it was required to provide. The interesting part of his invention is that it will not be an academic achievement (not only, at least). A running prototype is set to appear next year. We would have to wait a little longer to see it applied to regular cars. Anyway, if it can deliver low fuel consumption while keeping cars fast, it may become one of the first affordable hybrids people will wish to have.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.

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