The AMT technology is a nifty invention that marries the manual gearbox with an inexpensive intelligent hydraulic actuator in order to create the automatic driving experience at a much cheaper price.

It’s raining cars and bikes at the Delhi Auto Expo with nearly 70 vehicles launched in the first two days of the event. While a slew of concepts and technologies has been showcased, automatic manual transmission (AMT), a manual transmission that offers convenience of an automatic, may prove to be popular with sector giants such as Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra announcing vehicles with the feature.

The AMT technology is a nifty invention that marries the manual gearbox with an inexpensive intelligent hydraulic actuator in order to create the automatic driving experience at a much cheaper price. The lower fuel efficiency, which is a characteristic of automatic vehicles, is also taken care of by the technology.

A lot of buzz has already been created in the market by Maruti Suzuki India, which, on Thursday, launched its hatchback Celerio with an AMT variant. Talking about the technology, Maruti Vice-President, Engineering, C. V. Raman, told The Hindu “AMT combines convenience of an automatic transmission with cost-effectiveness of a manual one.”

The increasing amount of traffic in cities is driving the demand for automatics in India. However, their prohibitive prices have made it difficult to make such products mass market.

At present, an automatic transmission version of a car in the market is about Rs. 1 lakh more expensive than its manual transmission counterpart . With an AMT, that difference can come down to about Rs. 40,000.

Tata Motors will bring in Zest with AMT in the second-half of the year, and Mahindra will be introducing the feature in Quanto.

Ranjit Yadav, President, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors, said, “…there is underlying interest to move away from manual transmission. The penetration of automated vehicles is relatively low in India, and we see a good potential for AMT or as we call it Ftronic.” Tata Motors will also be introducing the feature in its small car Nano.

Echoing similar views, Maruti Suzuki India MD and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa said, “Given the congestion on Indian roads, the demand for cars with automatic transmission is a no-brainer.”

According to Maruti Suzuki, about 25 per cent of consumers who come to the company’s showrooms enquire about cars with automatic transmission. However, the conversion rate is poor due to the normally exorbitant price tag. Also, automatic transmission tends to be less fuel-efficient than manual.

“AMT, as a technology, brings in the cost advantage for the automakers in comparison to continuously variable transmission ,” Amit Kaushik, Principal Analyst at IHS automotive, said.

Offering AMT by Maruti Suzuki and Tata Motors could prove to be an excellent strategy as it might help them grab some additional volumes by targeting a yet another set of consumers looking for extra comfort and driving pleasure at a reasonably low-cost pricing point, he said.

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