Explore the 5 Varieties of Gear Selectors in Automatic Vehicles

Martin Joseph 26 February
Explore the 5 Varieties of Gear Selectors in Automatic Vehicles

In recent years, the prevalence of automatic transmissions in Indian cars has gradually risen, particularly among drivers looking for a smoother ride amidst the worsening traffic conditions. Today, a wide range of automatic transmission options are available, each offering unique features and benefits. Additionally, the design of the gear selector has evolved beyond traditional shift sticks, providing drivers with a diverse range of experiences when transitioning between Parking, Driving, and Reverse modes.


Here is a list of five different sets of gear selector/ drive mode selector options in automatic cars.


1. Zig Zag Pattern Lever - AMT



This gear selector lever is commonly seen in Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) cars, which demonstrates a significant innovation in automotive technology. These vehicles automate the manual transmission process by using hydraulic actuators controlled by an (Electronic Control Unit (ECU). Unlike conventional gear selectors with a linear motion, AMT cars feature a distinctive zigzag pattern for shifting between parking, driving, and reversing modes. 


Moreover, this gear lever incorporates a manual mode, allowing drivers to manually shift gears using a plus/minus pattern. Widely adopted by car brands such as Maruti, Hyundai, and Tata, AMT transmission represents a cost-effective solution for modern driving needs.


2. Forward & Backward Transmission Shifter - DCT, Torque Converters (AT), & CVT



In automatic transmission cars, another prevalent design of the drive selector lever adopts a straightforward and backward pattern. Typically, this type of gear lever is associated with vehicles equipped with dual-clutch transmission ( DCT), torque converters (AT), and continuously variable transmission (CVT). Furthermore, this gear level commonly integrates manual or sport modes, featuring a plus/minus pattern. These modes empower drivers to assume control over gear shifts or engage the engine in higher revs before shifting up a gear, which optimizes the vehicle’s performance during driving.

The price point for these transmissions exceeds that of an AMT gearbox due to their provision of an enhanced driving experience and incorporation of advanced technology surpassing that of AMTs. These types of gear selectors are predominantly utilized in turbo-petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles.


3. Toggle Type Drive Selector - Premium ICE Cars / EVs 



A growing trend among automakers involves the substitution of traditional shift stick with a toggle-type drive selector in their upscale internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles or electric vehicles (EVs). This drive mode selector allows for a simple push forward or backward on the instrument cluster. One notable advantage of this design is the creation of additional space in the central console, facilitating enhanced storage options or contributing to a more streamlined console layout. Moreover, these vehicles often feature paddle shifters positioned behind the steering wheel, enabling manual gear shifts for drivers seeking greater control over their driving experience.


The Citroen C5 Aircross, as well as the Citroen eC3 electric hatchback, incorporate this style of drive mode selector, a feature also found in contemporary Porsche vehicles.


4. Rotary Drive Selector



In Indian cars, these drive mode selectors are prevalent, surpassing the toggle design in popularity. They are available in both internal combustion engine (ICE) models and electric cars. To choose your preferred drive mode, you simply rotate the dial in the designated direction, with backlit letters indicating each mode. This dial configuration is generally found in various Tata models, including the Nexon, Punch EV, Nexon EV, Harrier, and Safari. Meanwhile, luxury automakers such as Land Rover and Jaguar enhance this feature by integrating a design that sits within the console when not in use, seamlessly popping up when the vehicle is started. Vehicles equipped with this arrangement often include paddle shifters for manual gear shifting as well.


5. Stalk Drive Selector 



This selector could be considered one of the earliest configurations for drive selectors, as it can be spotted in numerous classic cars. However, in contemporary times, this user-friendly stalk design, positioned behind the steering wheel, is predominantly associated with vehicles manufactured by Rolls Royce and Mercedes-Benz. To transition between drive modes, one simply needs to manipulate the stalk upwards or downwards, following the guidance provided by the P, N, D, and R markings.



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