In the 2018 terrain, GMC is planning to debut a new transmission interface with buttons and toggles to maximize the space available in the front of the vehicle. Other carmakers tried to replace the traditional gear shift with a rotary dial and that failed to gain widespread acceptance. They confused many motorists who failed to realize which gear their vehicle was in and the new design was held accountable for as many as 121 crashes and 41 injuries. FCA, for example, had to recall 1.1. million Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler vehicles with rotary based gear shifters.
Both the six-speed and nine-speed variants of the 2018 Terrain will have the new shifting system which is called “Electronic Precision Shift” ad comprises three push-buttons and two switch toggles. While the toggles are for “reverse” and “drive” gears, the push-buttons are for “park”, “neutral” and “low” gear. Motorists need to put their foot on the brake before they reach behind the toggle switch for either “reverse” or “drive”.
The control panel for the transmission is located below its air conditioning and radio controls in the Terrain and the space that is traditionally used for the gear shift has been allocated for cupholders and storage underneath the cupholders.
While the redesign of the transmission controls is a trend that is increasingly seen in luxury vehicles to maximize space, that is not the only reason. Another reason is that with increasing possibility of autonomous vehicles taking to the roads in the near future, this is a design that will become common. Autonomous vehicles will have electronic vehicles rather than a stick shift. According to Rick Spina, the executive chief engineer for compact SUVs at General Motors, this is the primary reason why many automotive manufacturers are exploring alternate transmission design options.
GMC says that by using buttons and toggles design, the concept of shifting of gears would be clearer and hence safer. There are also a number of fail-safes to correct driver error if it occurs. For example, if motorists accidently hit the “park” button while the vehicle is going at 30 mph, the vehicle instead of stopping suddenly, will instead alert drivers that they have attempted a prohibited shift. If the vehicle door is opened accidently while the vehicle is in “drive,” the parking function will be automatically activated. In order to prevent any rollaways, whenever the vehicle is in “park,” the parking brake automatically engages.
If the new transmission design receives favorable feedback from consumers, GMC is likely to implement the new design in all its models in the future.
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