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Seven-speed manual gearbox might be in the cards for BMW

During the 2000s six-speed transmissions started to increase in popularity because people found it very easy to shift from five to six speeds because there was just one extra gear downward. Nowadays it’s being shown that automatic transmissions have better fuel economy than manuals, thanks to them featuring a seventh or even an eight speed.

One might think that the manual would’ve been fast to catch up, however the general opinion amongst car manufacturers and experts alike, was that average humans can’t handle more than six speeds in a car, however Porsche was recently the first one to challenge this view with the latest 911 and it would appear that BMW is following suit.

BMW isn’t saying that the experts are completely wrong, with a seven-speed manual transmission there would surely be the danger of shifting into the wrong gear at the wrong speed, however they are planning on their design to only allow the driver to shift into the correct gear at the right time.

The idea is to submerge the shift gate in a magnetorheologic or lectroheologic fluid which would work in conjunction with a sensor and a computer which would make the calculations related to when it is appropriate to select any one particular gear. Then the fluid’s viscosity would be altered – either via magnetic field or electric voltage – in order to physically block incorrect gears. Quite the interesting, and rather high-science concept indeed.

It would appear that the patent features two different approaches to how this system would be implemented, namely a traditional manual transmission – requiring a clutch pedal – as well as a clutchless shift-by-wire arrangement that will connect the manually gear level to an automated sequential manual gearbox.

This is only a patent for now, the real thing is yet to be placed inside a prototype, however we’ll keep you updated once more information becomes available.

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