What Is a Geartronic Transmission?

Written by jen davis
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What Is a Geartronic Transmission?
Vehicles featuring a Geartronic transmission have characteristics of both manual and automatic transmissions. (shift stick image by BaSSaBaS from Fotolia.com)

The Geartronic transmission is a specific transmission brand that is commonly found in Volvo vehicles. It was designed to provide performance and flexibility similar to Porsche's Tiptronic transmission system. Both Geartronic and Tiptronic are manumatic transmission systems. Manumatic transmissions combine features of both an automatic and a manual transmission. Geartronic gearbox kits are available for adaptation into a number of different performance vehicles.

Manumatic Transmissions

Manumatic transmissions combine the features of automatic and manual transmissions for optimal driving control and convenience. The manumatic transmission will downshift itself, will upshift when the engine reaches a certain level of RPMs, or the driver can shift it at will. High-end performance vehicles often offer a manumatic transmission; Porsche, Volvo and BMW are among the car companies that offer them.

Geartronic Transmission

Geartronic is the company that supplied manumatic transmissions to Volvo for their cars. Geartronic has manufactured both a five-speed and a six-speed transmission for Volvo. The company also makes Geartronic Gearbox kits, which allow vehicles to be converted to a manumatic type shifting pattern using paddle shift technology. This is typically done to high performance race cars, rather than regular vehicles. Geartronic is essentially the brand name of the Volvo manumatic transmission. Tiptronic is the brand name for the Porsche version.

How it Works

Depending on the version of Geartronic transmission, the driver can use either a paddle feature on the steering wheel or a modified shifter to control the gears. If the driver does not shift the vehicle, the electronic computer will use input from sensors to determine what gear the vehicle should be in and will automatically adjust the transmission. The benefits of this system include increased driver control over the vehicle, which is important for high performance sports cars and race cars.

Manumatic versus Semi-Automatic

Manumatic transmissions are not the same thing as semi-automatic transmissions. Manumatics work using a torque converter to control power and shifting, while a semi-automatic uses a clutch system similar to that used by a manual transmission.

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