It's official. Manual transmissions are making a comeback.

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There are lots of great statistics at the Government CAFE web site. Lots of compiled data on cars going back to 1977 (and some even older.) One interesting trend tracked is the percentage of
automobiles with automatic transmissions.
In 1977, 84.1% of all new cars had AT. Under pressure of demands for improved fuel economy and increasing consumer preference for import cars, that number dropped to 75.0% in 1987. Then imports went upscale, ATs became more sophisticated and fuel got cheap. By 2002, 88.5% of new cars had only two pedals and the imminent demise of the manual transmission was widely predicted.
Then something funny happened. There were rumors of rebellion in the ranks and increased reports of drivers demanding control of the gear ratios. In 2003, the percentage of cars sold with automatics dropped precipitously to 82.4%. The CAFE site is now reporting a further drop in 2004 with the lowest percentage of AT's since 1991, 79.6%. That means that the number of cars sold with manual transmissions increased 77% in only two years and a clutch is now found in one of every five new cars.
In terms of sales, this trend actually surpasses the much touted return of rear wheel drive and the movement is broad based. While keeping in mind that the politics of fuel economy can skew the definitions pretty badly, the trend is apparent in domestics, Asian and European imports. All are selling manual transmissions at levels that haven't been seen in a decade. Almost half of all European cars are now shifters, the highest rate since 1988.
Will this be a long lasting trend or a brief flash? It is still too early to tell but it certainly shows that the old MT is going to be harder to kill than it once appeared. The auto companies have now learned that there is a solid base of buyers who prefer to shift for themselves and the increased availability of this option is sure to follow.
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/cafe/NewPassengerCarFleet.htm
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snipped-for-privacy@mindspring.com (Gordon McGrew) wrote:

On the other hand, you can't have hybrid gas/electric with MT. It's kind of a bummer because I like responsiveness of manuals but the milage*power level is falling behind some automatics. Regenerative braking, continuous gear ratios, ultra-lean burn, and cylinder bypassing need to be coordinated with an AT. The decision was much more clear-cut a few years ago when you chose between a peppy 5-speed manual or a sluggish 3-speed automatic. Now cars like the Accord Hybrid make the decision tough.
If we get fuel cells in marketable condition there may not be multiple gears anymore. You'll just have a knob to select how much regenerative braking you want when you take your foot off the throttle. Crank up regenerative braking and you'd have lightning fast response to throttle changes.
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On Thu, 24 Mar 2005 22:05:51 -0800, Kevin McMurtrie

Sure you can. Both the Civic and Insight hybrid models are available with MT. Accord hybrid comes only with AT for now, but you can get an MT on your V6 Accord now so it isn't implausible that the hybrid may get it eventually.

I think that it will be a long time before fuel cell cars are any more than a curiosity.
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shhhhhhh......don't tell Honda, who sells them by the boatload with manual transmissions.....
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wrote:

a manual; in fact, it can't have any transmission at all. It has an "electronic cvt" that is really just a pair of motor/generators in a differential arrangement with the gas engine... there is no place to put a transmission in the power train. If it were called a "virtual cvt" it would be less confusing.
Honda's IMA (integrated motor assist) works fine with a manual; Toyotas SHS (synergy hybrid system) could never have one, if only because the driver has no control over whether the engine is even running.
Mike
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Well, I guess it depends on your definition of "transmission", but I'd definitely say they have one! They have a set of planetary gears (which automatic transmissions also use). And yes, as you wrote, motor/generator is used to modify the gear ratio between the ICE and the driveshaft, as well as supply torque.
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Describe that a little more, if you would. I have a Honda Civic Hybrid with CVT, and I understand how it works. The IMA is fixed to the crankshaft, so they are both turning at the same speed. The CVT is a steel belt on movable "pinch" pulleys to provide the variable ratio.
I don't understand the mix of two electric motors and the CVT in the Escape. Short of buying the service manual, can you point to a decent reference for how it really works? I've seen some misguided crud, but no real explanation. I assume that it is the same as the Prius, so reference to that would be good, unless I can spot a discrepancy.
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wrote:

The Escape uses pretty much the same system as what Toyota uses, which is way different than the straightforward Honda Integrated Motor Assist.
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Try this treatise: http://home.earthlink . net/~graham1/MyToyotaPrius/Understanding/PowerSplitDevice.htm
I can't vouch for it being 100% correct, but it is similar to what I've read before about the Toyota hybrid drive. Basically, by varying the motor/generator1 speed, one can control the ICE rpm.
It's pretty neat, but also complex. 2 high-power motor/generators.
Another reference: http://www.me.utexas.edu/~tomr/body.htm
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that he looked into it very carefully, and it is true - under many conditions MG1 is used as a generator to provide power to MG2. It makes my head hurt to visualize it.
Mike
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Yep. That's how you can have a 50 kW motor, but only a 25 (30?) kW battery driving it. Sometimes, actually quite often, at least part of the electric power to drive the second motor comes from the ICE driving the first motor as a generator. Basically, an electric transmission. Generally I would not expect that to be as efficient as a mechanical clutch.
So the Prius system acts as both a mechanical and electrical transmission.
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wrote:

The efficiency is supposed to be about 90%, considerably less than a manual gearbox. OTOH, it allows the engine to operate in more efficient ranges more of the time, so it's an overall gain in city driving. On the freeway it would be hard to beat a manual tranny for efficiency. (I understand ATs with lockup come close.)
There is a narrow speed/power mode where MG1 is stationary and the transmission is strictly mechanical. I think that speed is different in the first generation Prius (before 2004 MY) than with the second generation, because the MG maximum speeds are different now.
Mike
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wrote:

By that way of looking at it, SHS has two transmissions, like pretty much all cars. The planetary "power split device" is a skewed differential and could have been made like a typical differential if ruggedness weren't important. No gears ever shift, there are no clutches or belts or hydraulics or solenoids or forks. It is all fixed gearing, which makes it different from automatic transmissions. The device should be bulletproof as long as the lubricant is kept up, without the weaknesses of manual trannies (no synchros, no clutch, no gear crunches possible).
The way I describe the system is to visualize an engine connected straight through to a differential. Instead of wheels, there is a motor/generator on each side of that differential. Connect another conventional differential and wheel setup to one side, and there you have it.
Mike
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Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

sweet! I also was under the impression that hybrids were only AT (probably because Prius came out first), and I was saddened that I would have to give up MT if I ever wanted to get a hybrid. But now I can have the best of both worlds.
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No, the Prius came out after the Insight. Insight: 2000. Prius: 2001. Civic Hybrid: 2003.
The Insight was available with both manual and auto trans, as is the current Civic Hybrid.
The Toyota is a complex system; the Honda is simple and straightforward. Integrated Motor Assist is probably more bang for the buck.
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In the US, you are correct. But the Prius was released in Japan and Europe before the Insight was produced. Honda reportedly rushed out the Insight to beat Toyota to the US market. Succesfully I would say as a lot of people think Honda made the first commercial hybrid!
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Elmo P. Shagnasty wrote:

OK fine, is this better? =)
I also was under the impression that hybrids were only AT (probably because Prius was the first hybrid to be popularized in the mainstream US media).
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I think of the IMA as an electric turbocharger. It uses mostly wasted energy later, to add some power to the little tiny gas engine that is able to get high mileage. I wonder what kind of mileage the civic would get if it just had the 1300cc engine, and no IMA. It is very simple to understand, and rather obvious in operation.
I don't understand the Escape very well yet. Definitely a different animal, and a precursor for the heavy hybrid (no pun towards the weight of the SUV). The electric-only mode could be extended with a heavier battery set and different logic so that it could operate completely electric and be charged at night, and yet have the gas engine for long distance usage. I have seen 99mpg on my average mileage display over a 10 mile stretch of commute traffic. Then the engine starts, and the mpg plummets ;-)
I picture today's Escape as a Gas-Electric Hybrid, where the next generation might be an Electric-Gas Hybrid.
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introduced in 2001, and Honda engineers reported the electric assist gave it off-the-line acceleration equivalent to a 600 hp engine. When we realize the technology is in its infancy, the future is amazing indeed.
Mike
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Honda did report on this. I forget the exact numbers, but it is something like 1/3 due to the hybrid itself (regen, more efficient power management), 1/3 engine downsizing and advanced technology, and 1/3 lightweighting of the vehicle. Something like that.

Same as Prius. See other posts.

Definitely doable. But it all depends what you want out of a vehicle, and what you are willing to pay. Extended operation off the battery requires a bigger, higher energy capacity battery. The cost of the battery (and mass and volume) are pretty much directly proportional to that energy capacity.
And if you want sustained performance, ex: climbing Baker Grade in california towing a trailer, you still need a lot of continuous capability.
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