If you understand an automobile well, you must be knowing that no car is complete without a gearbox. For a car to run, power produced by an engine is to be transmitted to the wheels (front or rear or all four) via a gearbox arrangement. Earlier, manual gearbox used to rule the rooster but they haven't evolved much over the time, apart from the increase in the gears.
But the automatic gearbox is a different ballgame altogether. Automatic gearbox came into light as an easy alternative to a manual gearbox and quickly captured the fancy of the buyers. Today, there are a lot of different types of gearboxes ranging from CVT to DSG to AMT. With the advent of new powertrains and proliferation of electronics, designers are now experimenting with how we change gears.
Earlier the gearshift level used to be a standard stick like a manual gearbox, with a Reverse, Drive and Neutral slots, designed to shift in a single line, or maximum in gated (zigzag) format. But now, we have different and weird ways to shift the automatic gears, from a rotary dial to steering column stalk. Here's how you can change the automatic gears in different ways!
The most common shifter that can be found in cars in India and worldwide is the stick shifter. What stick shifter essentially means is a gearbox with a regular stick like a manual gearbox, but a bit slick, that can be slotted to Reverse, Drive or Neutral gears by moving it in a linear direction or in gated format. Gated format consists of slots in a zigzag format that prevents the driver to accidentally move the gear level, a case most prominent in linear shifters.
Joystick/ Monostable shifter
A joystick or a monostable shifter is a kind of the stick shifter, albeit with a refined functionality and rich looks. Expensive and luxury cars like BMW and Audi are famous for providing the monostable shifter. In a monostable shifter, the gear knob remains at the same position, even after you have slotted it in the desired gear. Sadly, this is also considered to be a design flaw of the shifter as the driver can't really tell the position of the gear selected.
Rotary shifters are not too common, yet the most fascinating looking form of the gear shifts. India got its taste of the rotary gearshifts with the arrival of Jaguar and Land Rover cars in the country, which offered a fancy pop-up kind of swivel wheel that can be rotated to shift a gear. While JLR's shift was all about technology and style, more recently, Renault offered the rotary dial in its Kwid 1.0L AMT version, but for a more Indian reason - to save the space in the car.
Probably the only manufacturer in the world to offer this old school charm, the steering column mounted gear lever was common in cars like Fiat Padmini Premiere. All the Mercedes cars across the globe offers this stalk gear shift which remains in its positions and functions just like a monostable gear level. BMW tried its hand to offer the same type of column mounted lever in its 2002-2008 7-series sedan. This type of lever is installed below the wiper/ indicator stalk on the steering column.
Push button shifter
Push button shifters are the most uncommon type of gear shifters available in the market today. Strangely, these are also one of the earliest form of automatic shifters found in any car, dating back as early as 1950s. The design of the gear shifters is simple - they have individual buttons to select the gear you want slot your car in - P,R, N, D etc. In India, the hot hatch Abarth 595 Competizione and super expensive Aston Martin Vanquish offer this kind of gear shifter.