TOKYO -- In a rare move, Suzuki Motor has shifted the technology transfer paradigm into reverse, importing transmission technology developed in India and installing it in the new Carry commercial vehicle set to roll out in Japan later this month.
Japan's second-largest minicar manufacturer has a strong presence on the Indian subcontinent, where it recently developed Auto Gear Shift, an automated manual transmission with an electrohydraulic actuator that automatically operates clutch and gearshift. Unlike computer-assisted automatic transmissions, Suzuki's relatively low-cost technology is structurally simpler and improves fuel efficiency by around 5%.
However, shifting gears causes a slight vibration, an issue that still needs to be addressed.
The new Auto Gear-equipped Carry will be priced just under 900,000 yen ($8,574), the same as the current automatic transmission version. Suzuki aims to install the transmission in other models and reduce its production cost 10,000 yen to 20,000 yen below that of regular automatic transmissions.
Suzuki released the Celerio subcompact featuring the automated manual transmission technology in India in February. Automatic cars account for a sliver of India's automobile market, representing less than 1% of all cars on the road there. But nearly half of Celerio buyers, according to the automaker, choose the affordable automatic model, pushing Suzuki's management toward a decision to apply the technology to domestic models.
The carmaker eventually plans to release subcompact models equipped with automated manual transmissions in Europe as well. They will be also showcased in Southeast Asia and other emerging markets.