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Volkswagen is bringing in a new-generation gearbox, dubbed the MQ281 for its next-gen manual transmission-equipped offerings, claiming it will help improve fuel efficiency, as well as reduce emissions. Now, we already know that in countries like India, most people who preferred fuel savings gravitate towards manual transmissions, as these can quickly be brought to the speed, ideal for ‘maximum fuel savings.’ But that is only possible for small-capacity engines. However, that is not the case now, with more people opting for SUVs, which places high demands on the gearbox. And that is exactly the issue that Volkswagen aims to address.
The MQ281 is based on a 2.5 shaft concept and boasts a high gear spread of maximum 7.89. On the one hand, this guarantees good performance – even for heavy vehicles. To further reduce friction, a bearing concept adapted to the gearbox was developed. The design uses friction-minimised bearings with low-contact seals, which facilitates “downspeeding” (fuel-saving driving, where the vehicle is kept in the highest possible gear at the lowest possible rpm), without undue stress on the engine.
However, all the frugality does not mean a feeble output. The MQ281 has a torque spectrum of 200Nm to 340Nm allowing it to be used in various sedans as well as SUVs. Additionally, it also completely or partially supersedes the current Volkswagen gearbox designs with the internal designations MQ250 and MQ350 respectively.
“With the MQ281, we have developed a highly efficient manual gearbox that reliably meets these demands – and is soon to be introduced into a number of vehicle classes in the volume segment,” explains Helmut Göbbels, head, Manual Gearbox and Four-Wheel Drive Development, Volkswagen.
Development of the new gearbox focussed primarily on improving efficiency as well as engine longevity. “Here we employed virtual development methods,” says Helmut Göbbels. “This enabled us to design a completely new oil conduction system. Using a variety of oil conduction measures, we are able to achieve a uniform and optimum lubrication of gear wheels and bearings, reducing the amount of lifetime oil required to just 1.5 litres.”
Material use and its distribution for the gearbox housing have been developed with the sole aim of sturdiness. Then, with the aid of a further virtual development tool, a strength- optimised housing structure has been designed, which adheres to the noise regulations of today (avoidance of undesired secondary noises) and therefore ensures improved driving comfort through less audible and noticeable vibrations in the vehicle.
As is the case with many Volkswagen gearboxes, the MQ281 is produced in-house. Ramp-up is currently underway in the Volkswagen factories in Barcelona (Spain) and Córdoba (Argentina).