BOXBERG, Germany -- Robert Bosch's eClutch system could help put manual transmissions back on car buyers' shopping lists.
The eClutch eliminates two things drivers dislike most about cars with stick shifts: stalling and frequent use of the clutch pedal in stop-and-go traffic.
The eClutch can also improve fuel economy between 5 and 10 percent, Bosch engineers say.
During a recent press event here, reporters test drove an Audi A3 hatchback that Bosch had fitted with an eClutch. The car uses a standard clutch pedal and shifter and looks like any other vehicle with a manual transmission. The drive was staged on the company's test track in a variety of driving conditions.
First, I tried to stall the car. With the engine idling, the clutch pedal pressed to the floor and the shifter in first gear, I removed my foot from the clutch pedal as fast as I could without accelerating. But instead of stalling, the A4 juddered slightly, then began moving smoothly. The tachometer needle barely wavered.