top of page

Canceling the car gear lever is forgetting its roots?

The car gear lever is used in the car transmission, and its main function is to support the car to shift gears. Nowadays, more and more cars choose to cancel the gear lever setting and adopt a simpler and more technological ultra-short paddle (knob shift) or push-button shift. For example, among the several new cars launched not long ago, although the FAW-Volkswagen Lanxuan is called a lever-type electronic shift lever, the length of the lever is almost negligible, and it is more appropriate to call it a button shift. Beijing Hyundai's all-new Festa N Line, which focuses on sports, directly adopts push-button shifting, which completely strips away the traditional genes of sports cars.


In the eyes of many people, canceling the gear lever will lose the fun, forget the origin, and express that they cannot accept the change. Why do car companies not pay attention to these voices, or insist on promoting new designs? Let’s analyze together today.


How much more fun can a gear add?

Throughout history, gear levers have not been inherently inseparable from cars, nor were gears fun in the first place. For example, Mercedes-Benz One has simple gear, which can be responsible for moving forward and parking. At that time, we didn't even understand the steering wheel, and my left hand had to be distracted from following the pole, so gear shifting wasn't fun. As a milestone of human industry, the Ford Model T car did not have a gear lever at the earliest, but controlled the speed of the car through three pedals (high speed, low speed, reverse). The handle behind the steering wheel in this car is actually the gas pedal.


Of course, we can't deny the fun of the gear lever. A manual transmission will not help you arrange power output like automatic transmission but will execute according to your wishes.


So often in the same car, some people just can't understand how to drive it, but another person can fly. Even when Fujiwara Takumi replaced the new racing engine, he thought about the timing of shifting for a long time. In the end, Fujiwara Bunta pointed out that it could only display its true strength at 11,000 rpm.


The engine torque output is related to the speed. Because of different adjustments, the torque curves of various engines will also be different. Because the 86 is used for running hills, it can have better cornering performance when it is adjusted to high speed and high torque.

So talk to someone who loves to drive manual transmissions about the understanding of gears, he can talk to you all day and night. But the reality is cruel. With the popularization of the automatic transmission, the number of real manual transmission users is very limited. According to the JD Power and Green Car Report, 120,000 of the 11.7 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2019 were equipped with a manual transmission (1.1%). Sales of new vehicles with manual transmissions were down 0.5 percent from 2018, and most of them were on the lowest trim levels.


The same is true in China. Last month, Volkswagen Transmission (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. reported that it plans to officially stop producing manual transmissions at the end of March next year. There was a public outcry. With the electrification transformation of the automobile industry, manual transmissions are becoming less and less popular.


Although fuel vehicles still use electronic shift levers, the joy of control brought by automatic transmission is actually not great at this time. The electronic shift lever saves the traditional mechanical shift mode and replaces it with electronic signals, so the position of the shift lever will not move when shifting gears. Although the gear handle can be made very beautiful, the fun of combining people and cars is much less.


Without a gear lever, what do we gain?

As the saying goes, what is lost is what is gained. Without a gear lever, the car has a new experience and has also spawned some new changes. Regarding the following, it has happened or is happening.


Fun is directly proportional to design difficulty


Since the gear is the most frequently used component, its ergonomic requirements are high. For example, after experiencing the Accord, you will feel that the gear of the CRV has to be reached, and the comfort will be worse. The shifter needs a lot of work to be comfortable. Especially for some global cars, more attention should be paid to the optimization of ergonomics, otherwise, it will be particularly awkward to use. It's like a ready-to-wear design. The dummy model is a benchmark. If the benchmarks are different, would Asians look good in European clothes?


The same is true for cars, which also need to be tailored. Take a public paper published by the Pan Asia Automotive Technology Center as an example. The paper mentioned that the HVI-related standards of domestic cars are mostly established based on the SAE human body, but some studies have shown that Asians and Europeans, and Americans have obvious differences in driving habits. , and there are differences between the Chinese human body and the SAE human body in height size and upper and lower body proportions.


Regarding the ergonomics requirements of the gear lever, the loudest voice is the gear position is moderate, and there is no need to bend over to operate, which involves the optimization of the front and rear position of the gear lever, the height of the gear lever, the inclination angle of the gear lever, and the space for gear operation. Therefore, if a manufacturer is concerned about satisfying people in various markets, it must optimize for local demand. But this will bring about increased time cost and design costs. If you choose to cancel the gear lever and use the dial shift or button shift, this problem will not exist.



Reduce the probability of abnormal noise or even damage to the gear lever


The longer the cantilever height is, the easier it is to have abnormal noise on bumpy roads after long-term use. Why do you say that you can take two rulers of different lengths, hold one end of the ruler in your hand, and shake them with the same force, the 50 cm long ruler will shake more than the 20 cm long ruler.


If the shift button or button is used, the possibility of abnormal noise will be greatly reduced. Long stems are more prone to loose screws, bolts, and nuts (one of the key causes of rattling, and damage).


In engineering language, it belongs to abnormal vibration. For example, the figure below is the vibration durability test for the gear lever. Under normal temperatures, the vibration frequency is 60Hz and the vibration acceleration is 4.4G. The vibration durability is carried out in the vertical direction, horizontal direction, and vertical direction for 4 hours respectively. Doing this level of testing can basically simulate the state of the product after three years of use. From the test results, it is true that some products have failed or been damaged.


In fact, the elimination of manual gear with electronic gear has similar benefits. As the first camp to cancel the mechanical gear lever, in mid-level cars, one of the purposes is to improve NVH. This is due to the fact that the electronic gear lever is a means of isolating the vibration of the drive train. It cuts off the hard link between the drive train and the passenger compartment and cuts off the vibration of the powertrain from the physical structure. The knob-type or dial-type shifter used today further optimizes NVH.


In addition, it is not only the abnormal noise, friends who have used the old-fashioned shifter, but most also complained about the tearing of the leather cover of the shifter. In fact, the manufacturer has considered this phenomenon in research and development. For example, the following is the requirement of a certain car company,


Perform 3,900 cycles at a low temperature first, and then 630,000 cycles at room temperature. The specific number of cycles for each gear is shown below. The loading speed is 300mm/s. After the test, observe the rupture of the shift sheath. This approach is to simulate the state of the car in various environments and after various uses.

In response to this problem, some car companies with strict quality requirements can rest assured that as long as it is not used violently, there will be no cracks for 3-5 years. However, it is not ruled out that some manufacturers do not pay much attention to this kind of quality problem that will only erupt in the later stage. So why not just do away with the gear lever? In this way, there will be no future troubles, and it will also make the interior more technological.


There is one less anti-theft method, but a technological solution has appeared


The gear lock is installed on the handle of the gear lever so that the gear lever cannot be moved, and even if the engine is started, it is difficult to drive away.


But now cars have begun to enable sentry mode. When the vehicle is in the parking state, the owner can view the video information of the cameras around the body in real-time through the mobile phone. Once the vehicle is bumped or moved, the external camera will record the surrounding environment of the vehicle and notify the owner through the mobile phone App/SMS. Videos can also be viewed.


In short, the replacement of the shifter not only allows the middle channel to obtain a wider space, but also echoes the sense of technology, and is also beneficial to product quality reliability, and ergonomic design. It is not surprising that manufacturers are willing to promote it.


The demise of the gear lever is due to the times, and it has successfully completed its mission. In fact, the new shifting method is not useless. In addition to the general perception of highlighting the sense of technology, there are many engineering reasons for adopting it.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page