End of the DCT is Near?

Has the time of the BMW Dual Clutch Transmission come and gone? Sources are indicating that the recently introduced DCT may be such a niche product that its time may be short lived. Porsche is feeling the same way with the famed PDK. The dual-clutch setup is fantastic in its implementation but remains an extremely niche product. According to Automotive News, transmission specialist ZF Friedrichshafen AG does not see a mass market for the dual-clutch technology that it sells to Porsche. Part of the issue is the cost to performance proposition of building a DCT that can handle lots of torque.With today ‘s performance cars increasing torque exponentially it leaves little market for the DCT.

With the introduction of the X5 and X6 ///M versions using a technically updated automatic transmission and cylinder deactivation to produce shifts as fast as a DCT the writing was on the wall for a possible end to the BMW DCT.What this means now is that in the short term we will more than likely not see future products offered with a DCT, with a shift to 8 speed automatics across the line by 2013. We have been told not to assume anything in regards to current offerings but that the ///M3 and DCT are a perfect match.

All you F10 ///M5 anticipators take note- this seals the deal that a DCT will NOT be in that vehicle!

Stay tuned for more updates as we get them!

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  • JonPD

    Sad demise for sure, think the F10 /M5 would have seriously rocked with this.

  • I was a bit shocked when I heard the news but I also know that there are some other technologies that are out there that are being investigated… we will have more on that later. I still think that the DCT will continue in lower performance vehicles, it is the newer high performance cars that it will not make it to. The Veyrons DCT costs as much as some BMWs so that is not even an option!

    The issue is the amount of torque these new motors will be putting out is too much for a DCT to handle reliably and the market is not large enough for economies of scale, so price point wise the performance gain is not worth it. From a manufacturers standpoint it makes sense, the consumer on the other hand maybe not.

    By no means is this about the small DSG VW produces as that is something different FWD low torque etc…

  • ACE

    “it is the newer high performance cars that it will not make it to” So the new 911 Turbo and GT-R are not high performance then?

  • Look at the price point of a 911. The GTR has been noted to have transmission issues aka detonate the transmission.

    I am just reporting verified information from sources that are extremely reliable…. it is also worth noting the German manufacturer of these transmissions is not seeing a future market (and their stock dipped). There are other technologies that many are not aware of and we will discuss in the future, Low torque engines in ///M cars will be a thing of the past, and when we release the final specs of the BMW Performance Engine kit, you will see increased performance from the automatic edition secondary to its ability to handle more torque. BMW requires a buffer in all applications and the current lot of DCTs does not fit that criteria and those that do are not “worth” it on cost perspective.

  • JonPD

    Maybe thinking outside of the box but maybe if BMW stops making 3-5k lbs performance vehicles they don’t have to worry about adding more torque and hp to offset the bloated nature that BMW seems to have troubles with.

    Although I do look forward to seeing what they come up with to replace it. My fear is that in the generation ahead automatic transmissions will be at the heart of many developments.

  • John

    I don’t think DCT will be leaving anytime soon. The potential for the technology is still there. I think there is a fallacy in the post given the fact that other ‘high performance” cars have begun adopting the technology. We have seen adoption in the new 911, GT-R, Ferrari California and the upcoming incredible 458 Italia. Especially given the new Vision concept incorporating DCT, it seems to be one of the key technologies for Efficient Dynamics. The benefits of DCT far outweigh the current torque limitation and development will further rectify this. If the DCT in the 458 Italia can handle approximately 400 ft·lbs of torque, there is definitely room to improve the technology. The technology is still relatively young and would be unwise to make quick judgments, especially given the lack of credible sources mentioned in the article. I expect the technology to disseminate into later M cars, especially the upcoming F10 M5.

  • TMQ

    Can’t we just stay with manual transmissions?

    Whatever they do with automatic transmission, let’s hope they can make them more reliable.

  • Paratus

    Enter the Vision Efficient Dynamics… a futuristic BMW concept car that has a… DCT! Of course, this car weighs a hair over 3K lb – but it does pack almost 600 lb-ft of torque.

    Clearly the DCT is not a forgotten technology for BMW, but rather a technology they will use selectively. I expect the next gen M3 to use a DCT, but we’ll see what ///M decides in due time!

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  • Patatus- In concept the DCT makes sense but from a cost perspective it does not.

    We shall see though… my source stated to not expect what you think.


  • This author is completely un-educated… The reason ZF is saying this about DCT’s is that they have the 8HP transmission whis is the most efficient transmission configuration an automatic has ever seen, with fantastic gear-to-any-gear skip shifting capabilities. They also have dampers built into the TC’s so they can lock up at lower engine RPM’s… Finally, ZF has the 8HP layout – and similar layouts – nicely wrapped up from a world-wide patent disclosure aspect, such that they can try blind-siding un-educated journo’s into believing the reason why they are concentrating on Auto’s is because the DCT is no good compared to the 8HP… I wonder if ZF had got the M3 business with the 7DCT50 they designed several years ago, which they then hastily re-designed into the 7DT45 for the Porsche, they’d still be saying this? Incidentally, ZF have also developed another new DCT for the Panamera; the only thing mechanically the same between this transmission and the 911 transmission is the clutch – absolutely everything else from the general layout, gearing, actuators, controls, housings – it is all different. Hardly what you’d expect from a company who says DCT’s will die out shortly…

    I personally believe (or should that be KNOW) we’ll see many more DCT’s in the future, in all applications.

  • Dave we have several reliable sources on this matter that know quite a lot. This is addressing high torque motors and cost- BMW is not like Porsche and can not sell a $5k transmission option. Porsche is even no longer like Porsche has been, hence why they are now completely in bed with VW.

    Never did I or any part of this post state that the DCT was flawed. It is a cost to performance ratio that makes it not worth it. There is a reason BMW DID NOT USE A DCT in the X5/X6 ///M cars. The ///M engineers on the project and and other ///M projects have some good reasons why the DCT was not used which we can not detail at length. These higher torque applications require a DCT with such a high per unit cost that the slight performance gains do not warrant it. There is also the issue of the DCT and KERS systems used at the same time, as it was explained to me.

    You might also want to read my subsequent post on the IVT from Torotrak as well as subscribe to the Automotive news to further read their take on the DCT.

    This DCT thing will happen; low torque motors will keep it, new cars will not receive it (this gen) and the high torque motors of the future will have a different option.

    I do not appreciate personal attacks, they are unnecessary and contribute little value to the discussion, I happen to be very well educated and have a more advanced education than 99% of the population. I will leave it at that. I will not continue this but also don’t like censoring posts; future attacks will be. If you have a personal comment you would like to make or suggestion please do so via the contact link.

    I have also experienced the 8HP in person and it can NOT skip to any gear as you stated, but that is for a different day- I don’t know maybe sometime next week.

  • Toothy

    Dave’s comments, if a little harsh, are mostly on the money – ZF was going to supply BMW with DCTs, but then lost the contract to Getrag. They do now supply two completely different DCTs to Porsche, but volumes are small compared to their plans for the 8HP, which CAN skip multiple gears, due to the specific gearset layout they use.

    However, Michael is also right, in that BMW was planning to take much higher DCT volumes, but cost pressures forced it to cut back on the plans – hence his suggestion that they might consider dropping it completely.

    The reality is that DCTs will be a increasingly used technology in the future, with costs coming down as volumes and experience increase. But so too will the significantly improved autos that are being developed by companies like ZF.

    Ultimately, it is the manual transmission which will lose out, because it has very little wriggle room left, in terms of efficiency.


  • Fragemall

    A few points to ponder

    I do not think that the argument that DCTs cannot handle high torque is exactly true. The way present DCTs are designed, the two clutches are concentric allowing for smaller dimensions of the gearbox. But this does put a limitation on the size (read friction surface area) of the individual clutches (Probably this can be remedied by increase in the number of plates or better frictional plate materials in future)

    But look at the Mclaren MP4-12C gearbox. Excerpts from Richard Farquhar, McLaren Automotive’s Powertrain Managers launch material for the 12C- “Our Seamless Shift Gearbox (SSG) is a twin layshaft design with two small diameter wet clutches placed side by side, rather than concentrically”.

    Mclaren did this to reduce the length of the gearbox to keep the rear overhang low. Does this give more space to mount higher capacity clutches? I do not know. what I do know is that the car costs $225,000 (fraction of the Veyron inspite of being made entirely of carbon fiber) and the gearbox can handle 600Nm, not far away from an X6M’s output of 680Nm.

    Do you still think DCTs cant handle lots of torque?

  • gewinnste

    Oh my god, pwnd soooo hard!! Still can’t stop face-palming.

    How on earth did you get the idea that DCTs could be at their end in 2009? I remember that I was was super psyched back then and it was clear to me this is gonna be huge.

    It’s like saying, now: Is this the end of electric turbos?

    shakes head