Chrysler has decided to shelve its announced plans to install a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox in new Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200 models. The company does not believe American buyers will accept the rougher feel of its gear shifting, and therefore the fuel-saving new transmissions are on indefinite hold.
Performance trashed by Consumer Reports
A similar transmission was used in some Ford Fiesta and Focus models this year. The performance of those transmissions, however, was slammed by Consumer Reports in its annual reliability survey earlier this month. As a consequence, Chrysler has decided to go with its standard 62TE six-speed automatic transmission for its mid-size 2012 Avenger and 200 models.
The Fiat-made gearbox, which is currently in use in Europe, can increase fuel economy by 10 percent.
A dual-clutch transmission uses two separate clutches instead of a torque converter to transfer power to the vehicle’s axles. It is virtually identical in performance to a standard transmission at highway speeds. But at lower speeds in town, they respond slower and give some drivers the impression that the vehicle may stall.
‘American customer has certain expectations’
Vince Muniga, a spokesman for Chrysler, told Motor Trend:
“We were concerned about the refinement and how the American customers might perceive the transmission. … The American customer has a certain expectation of what they want out of a transmission. We weren’t happy with the drivability of the transmission.”
Muniga went on to say that the company is still looking at the dual-clutch and ZF Friedrichshafen nine-speed transmissions for future models but must first be satisfied with the feel and performance of the gearboxes.
Earlier efforts scrapped
Chrysler at one time teamed with Getrag Corp. to prefect a fuel-efficient dual-clutch transmission at its $530 million Indiana-based factory. That venture was bagged in 2009 when Chysler faced its bankruptcy.
Fuel economy mandates
The company continues to examine methods of making its cars more fuel efficient to meet future government-mandated standards. The Obama administration has made it law that all U.S.-made vehicles must clock in at 56 mpg by 2025.