Auto manufacturers are using every strategy to increase their automobile’s mile per gallon (MPG). They are looking at reducing the weight of vehicles, installing more fuel-efficient engines with smaller displacements, and increasing the number of forwarding gears available in modern automatic transmissions.
Four and five-speed automatics ruled for years, with a few luxury brands offering seven or eight-speed automatics. Today, six-speed automatics are quickly becoming the norm, even on economy cars and big-volume vehicles. CVTs – continuously variable transmissions have also become pretty much the standard. But automakers are not stopping there.
Where Modern Automatic Transmissions Are Headed
The idea behind increasing the number of forwarding gears in modern automatic transmissions is based on the assumption that fewer engine revolutions translate to less fuel consumption. With rising fuel prices, environmental concerns, and government mandates for fuel economy, automakers have advanced further with new innovations that deliver 9 or 10 speeds. You can now find seven, eight, and nine-speed automatic transmissions in any kind of car, from large luxury sedans to subcompact SUVs. The more gears an auto transmission has, the more efficiently it can match engine speed to the driving conditions at any given point in time.
The additional top gear plays a huge role in making modern automatic transmissions. With more gears, they’re more economical than the conventional counterpart. An eight-speed in top gear on the highway does not have to work as hard as a five-speed. It is running at lower RPMs, which saves on gas. Besides highway speeds, these transmissions also offer benefits across the operating range of the engine. The more gears in the transmission, the greater the likelihood of the engine running at its most economical speed in any situation.
Modern automatic transmissions offer better performance, with smoother starting and maneuvering. There is more driver comfort, owing to shorter shift times and a smoother transition between gears; and increased fuel efficiency, which is pocket and environment-friendly.
Among the automakers working on new and improve modern automatic transmissions are:
- GM and Ford – looking to roll-out a 9- and 10-speed automatic transmission in 2017.
- ZF – a German car-maker with a new 9-speed automatic that only works on front-wheel-drive cars.
- Hyundai – with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
- Volkswagen – currently developing a 10-speed automatic transmission. For Volkswagen, more gears and better fuel efficiency could lead to reduced CO2 emissions to 95g/km by 2020.