Chrysler has plans to introduce a dual-clutch transmission (DCT) to its lineup, but it won't happen in the 2012 model year in either the Dodge Avenger or Chrysler 200 sedan, as was planned.
The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker has been working on dual-clutch gearboxes since 2008, when it first announced it would develop a DCT with supplier Getrag. The automaker's Chapter 11 filing in the same year put an end to a plan to convert an Indiana plant over to DCT production.
Late last year, when it introduced the restyled Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200--a replacement for the Sebring sedan and convertible--Chrysler said both sedans would get a dual-clutch transmission sourced and engineered in Europe. With the 2012 model year in full swing, the DCT versions haven't joined Chrysler's new eight-speed automatics in its product plan, though a sporty Avenger R/T has been introduced.
Chrysler now says it's delayed the introduction of the transmission while it continues to work on refinement. Chrysler spokesperson Kathy Graham says that the DCT "feels differently than what consumers are used to in the United States," and that Chrysler "felt additional development work to ensure we fulfill the market expectations and driving requirements by U.S. consumers was the right decision."
"Mr. Marchionne has been on record since Fiat bought us that our products need to be perfect," Graham says, explaining that the recent negative reviews of Ford's DCT in the 2012 Focus had no impact on Chrysler's decision to delay its own dual-clutch transmission.
The 2012 Focus was one of three vehicles named as a reason for Ford's slide in Consumer Reports' Annual Reliability Survey, which pointed to its PowerShift DCT as a source of consumer complaints.
Chrysler's dual-clutch transmission is still planned for North American vehicles. Given the availability of dual-clutch gearboxes in vehicles like the Focus and the new Hyundai Veloster, it's possible the new transmission could first appear in the 40-mpg compact car promised by Chrysler as a part of its acquisition by Fiat. That small car is expected to be introduced at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, possibly under the Dodge Hornet badge.