Smart Shifting Technology: Innovations in Fuel Efficiency

By Desiree Homer

Technology advancements aren’t just reserved for AV/EV segments. There are innovations launching daily to help improve the operational and mechanical components in today’s gas-powered vehicles, too. In fact, two automakers have recently announced a new transmission and smart shifting advancement, intended to use artificial intelligence to improve overall fuel economy. As a dealer, promoting new tech advancements with your franchise brands can keep you ahead of the pack. If you’re a Hyundai or Kia dealership, you may have some new tech to talk about with your customers.

Hyundai & Kia Embracing Smart Shifting Tech

Together, these automakers have developed what they call the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Connected Shift Transmission. By intelligently using mapping data, paired with sensors, the transmission is designed to select the optimum gear based on road conditions. Future vehicle models will feature this newly predictive tech, and eventually, these types of 5G vehicle-infrastructure communications will be fully integrated.

How It Works

Imagine having sensors that evaluate a driver’s acceleration, speed, and upcoming road conditions to then determine the most optimum gear to engage. Traditional transmission configurations typically rely on speed and acceleration alone to determine when to shift. The latest innovation by Hyundai and Kia taps into the same type of sensors that already exist in the adaptive cruise control feature. They marry this existing platform with 3D mapping that helps a vehicle predict shifting based on elevation and winding roads ahead. Hyundai says it’s an “artificial intelligence algorithm” that allows the car to find the best shifting scenarios in real-time. The numbers are showing real results, too. On a curvy road test, shifting through the corners dropped 43%, and braking showed a reduction of 11%.

What Problem It’s Intended to Solve

Finding the right gear at precisely the right time translates to better fuel economy. Taking a look back at the transmission designs over the years, enhancements have often solved vehicle performance problems, as well. Consumers wanted to venture away from the manual transmission hassles. For some, the manual transmission is still the best option for fuel economy, and they prefer to find the optimal gear themselves. There always presents real opportunities to make the automatic, computer-determined shifting scenarios better for the rest of those consumers who prefer not to shift manually. With today’s gas prices, any boost to savings at the pump is appreciated.

Automaker Innovations Mean Dealer Marketing Opportunities

There are a host of weekly headlines about recent innovations in electric and hybrid vehicle technologies. But many of these enhancements and changes are still in development. Not all consumers will be ready to make the leap to the EV lifestyle, either. This makes tech-based innovations on the existing fleets of gas-powered models all the more exciting for dealers. Anytime your automaker brands make significant headway in advancing the technology in present inventories, it presents a marketing opportunity and selling point on the showroom. The car-buyers may not need to understand the science behind smart-shifting transmission configurations. But, they will definitely understand and appreciate stretching those miles per gallon and reducing their overall cost of ownership due to infrequent gas stops.

Hyundai and Kia said future models would feature this new transmission, but did not say which vehicles in their lineups would be included. Consider looking into any significant technological enhancements your franchise brands have developed. You might be able to leverage some of those upgrades in your marketing strategies and sales conversations.