How AMT tech is changing India’s automatic car market

Automated Manual Transmission (or AMT) isn’t just the ideal way to introduce automatic gearbox equipped vehicles to a market that’s a little apprehensive about adopting to automatics. Leave the premium cars (most of which don’t offer manual even as an option), there’s a dearth of automatic versions of regular cars. Add to that the fact that manual gearboxes, more often than not, offer better fuel economy, which pushes the customer further away from autos. AMT on the other hand tries to change that. We take a look at the current scenario, and what the upcoming vehicles that are expected to offer the technology.

Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 Urbano Edition

Eliminating the clutch pedal, the AMT doesn’t just make driving easier in stop-go traffic, it also ensures that you don’t burn the clutch. The system is also cheaper and easier to install than other forms of automatic transmission, hence it has gained popularity. The biggest downside is the reduced control to the driver, and of course, slower shift times. The gearshifts aren’t as smooth as in the dual-clutch units, but if you look beyond all that, AMTs offer a win-win situation.

Also see – 4 kinds of automatic transmissions on Indian cars

Current vehicles that are in demand, largely because of AMT

Maruti Suzuki Celerio AMT

Maruti Suzuki Celerio Hatchback 1

The car which started the AMT revolution among affordable vehicles, the Celerio continues with a good demand for AMT version. After this MSIL also introduced AMT in the smaller Alto K10 and is looking to expand its portfolio even further. The Magenti Marelli-made AMT unit is available only on the petrol powered versions, but even with that, the company managed to sell more than 50,000 units of AMT-equipped Celerio and Alto K10 by September 2015. Along with the announcement, MSIL also made it clear that 25 per cent sales of the two cars are due to the AMT versions.

 

Tata Nano AMT

2015 Tata Nano GenX AMT 1

Tata Motors wanted to give the under-appreciated Nano a much-needed push, and thus came the GenX Nano model upgrade. Not only were the aesthetics and hatchback (you can now access the boot by opening the hatch) updated, an automated manual transmission was also offered. With that set, the Nano became all the more suitable for urban driving. Initial response for the AMT version was very encouraging – 70 per cent of new customers chose the AMT.

Mahindra TUV300

Mahindra TUV300 14

While the much talked about Mahindra Quanto Autoshift hasn’t yet made it to the dealerships yet, the new and much improved (in comparison to the Quanto) TUV300 comes with an optional AMT gearbox. Alongside the Tata Zest (which unfortunately couldn’t be hugely successful), the TUV300 becomes one of the least expensive diesel-powered vehicles to offer an automatic gearbox. About 50 per cent of the bookings received for the TUV300 are for the AMT version, which is beyond what Mahindra had expected.

What’s next?

While most car companies have refrained from using AMT in more expensive vehicles, there’s a slew of products expected to get the same system, in the sub Rs 10 lakh category. In a price conscious segment, the AMT can work, and while at it, the companies can successfully introduce these customers to their more advanced gearboxes.

Anyway, the next few products to get AMT include:

Mahindra S101 (Codename)

Mahindra S101 Compact SUV Render 2

 

After the launch of the TUV, Mahindra is expected to target the hatchback segment with its new crossover. Internally known as the S101, the vehicle is also expected to use the same AMT unit as the one found in the TUV300 – a unit made with inputs from Ricardo.

Maruti Swift and Swift Dzire

Maruti-Swift-Glory-Edition-front

The very successful hatchback-saloon pair is likely to receive an AMT unit as well, following the recent addition of the gearbox to Wagon R. But unlike the Wagon R or the other MSIL products that have an AMT, the duo here is likely to get a diesel automatic.

2015 Maruti Suzuki Dzire

 

So much like the Tata Zest, the Dzire and the Swift could prove to one of the least expensive diesel automatic models in the country. The engine – Fiat-derived 1.3-litre unit – is expected to remain unchanged.

Renault Duster

2015 Renault Duster SUV Facelift

The biggest headache that Renault is currently dealing with is the Hyundai Creta. And while the Creta doesn’t get the solid styling and the ability to go off-road like the Duster, it offers a diesel automatic which the Duster does not. And that’s one of the reasons why the Renault crossover’s sales are affected.

But it all could be changed (or made less bad, at least) by introducing an automatic gearbox in the Duster. Likely to be launched during this fiscal the Duster facelift will bring along some new styling tweaks and an AMT gearbox.

Renault Kwid

Renault Kwid in Red 2

This budget hatchback from the French automaker is the flavour of the season. Sometime next year, Renault is likely to add an AMT option to this car. The AMT will strengthen the Kwid’s position as a terrific city car. A price tag that’s about 40,000 rupees higher than the manual variant will make the Kwid AMT one of the least priced automatic cars in India, and the world.