Even the most modern internal combustion powered cars are terribly inefficient. There are many moving parts that experience friction and part of the fuel is simply burned to create heat in the system. Transmission is one of those areas with the biggest losses. But now Volkswagen has managed to create a new manual gearbox, called the MQ281, which will cut CO2 emissions by 5 g/km.
Most automatic transmissions are more efficient than most manuals. That’s just the reality of automotive design. Computers change gears at the correct time and select the best ratio for the best situation. Not to mention that gear changes are seamless nowadays and very efficient. Most cars sold today are equipped with automatic transmissions, which pushed the development of manual gearboxes aside. However, Volkswagen decided to invest in a new manual, which will first appear in Passat and later in other brand’s vehicles.
People are not only switching to automatics – they are also going for SUVs. Those have bigger wheels that put more strain on the gearbox. The MQ281 is based on a 2.5 shaft concept and boasts a high gear spread of maximum 7.89. This allows starting to move easier and towing heavier loads, even if the car has larger wheels. It also helps engine rev at lower RPM while driving at higher speeds. Essentially, this gearbox offers everything other transmissions have, but is significantly more efficient. Less fuel burned means that the car is going to emit fewer grammes of CO2 – an improvement by 5 g/km to be exact.
MQ281 transmission has friction-minimised bearings, new housing. Even the lubrication has been advanced. Helmut Göbbels, Head of Manual Gearbox and Four-Wheel Drive Development at Volkswagen, said: “Using a variety of oil conduction measures, we are able to achieve a uniform and optimum lubrication of gear wheels and bearings, reducing the amount of lifetime oil required to just 1.5 litres”.
Just like many Volkswagen gearboxes, the MQ281 is produced in-house – production will start in Germany and then in the factories in Barcelona (Spain) and Córdoba (Argentina). The new Passat is the first vehicle to be equipped with the MQ281, but other Volkswagen models are going to follow.
Nowadays manual gearboxes and ICO-powered cars in general are not getting the same attention as they used to. This is because of the overwhelming push for electric cars. However, major car manufacturers estimate that ICO-powered cars will make a significant part of all vehicles for 2-3 decades to come. Meanwhile manual gearboxes are still the default choice for people in Latin America, Asia and other regions.