BorgWarner Inc. announces that it has a customer and will begin production in 2003 of its DualTronic automated manual transmission.

The DualTronic dual-clutch automated manual improves upon the automatic-shifting manual transmissions currently fitted in several European vehicles by employing two separate gearset shafts, each with its own corresponding wet clutch, to engage and disengage the gears. In a 5-speed manual, for instance, one shaft would account for gears 1, 3 and 5, and the second shaft would contain gears 2, 4 and reverse. By clutching the shaft for the outgoing gear while simultaneously engaging the shaft for the next-desired gear, the unit greatly reduces the time required for the gearshift — but more importantly, drastically improves shift quality, all but eliminating shift “shock” and balky response to throttle inputs.

BorgWarner says the market for this new-technology transmission — which combines the fuel-efficiency advantages common to manual transmissions with the driving ease of an automatic — could exceed $1 billion “in the future” and account for 25% of Europe's transmission market by 2008.