• AboutCar.com launches new used car section
  • Tesla retail model faces new legal challenge in Ohio
  • Toyota revealing new model

Continuously Variable Transmission-Better Than Automatic?

April 4, 2011 by - Automotive Editor

Continuously Variable Transmission is not new term. We have seen countless new cars with this transmission lately. CVT is nothing like Automatic or manual transmission, yet it is hard to say if it is better or not. In a regular auto transmission, there are a fixed number of gears. However, CVT can change through an infinite number of gear ratios, minimum and maximum.

 

The concept of CVT was initially put forward by Leonardo da Vinci in 1490. In 1935, the US patent for CVT was granted. In 1910, the true potential of CVT was realized when it was used in the highly successful V2-Motorcycles. It wasn’t until 1989 that the first CVT production car was introduced in the US.  A gigantic gap of centuries between the conceptualization, realization and implementation of this idea makes one wonder if it really is as good as they claim.

The concept of CVT was initially put forward by Leonardo da Vinci in 1490. In 1935, the US patent for CVT was granted. In 1910, the true potential of CVT was realized when it was used in the highly successful V2-Motorcycles. It wasn’t until 1989 that the first CVT production car was introduced in the US.  A gigantic gap of centuries between the conceptualization, realization and implementation of this idea makes one wonder if it really is as good as they claim.

Later, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Audi, Fiat and Mitsubishi all came up with their own CVT designs for their cars. All of the designs had their own advantages and drawbacks. Today, many hybrid and electric cars come equipped with CVT instead of automatic transmissions. So are there any significant advantages?

One of the major advantages of the CVT is its fuel economy. Since there is no fixed number of gears in CVT, it allows the engine to switch to the most suitable rpm regardless of the speed. On the other hand, automatic transmission has a fixed number of gear ratios that can limit the engine’s rpm. As CVT lets the engine run on optimum rpm, it results in better mileage.

CVT can greatly enhance the driving experience as the driver will feel no jerks between the gear ratio switch. This means CVT can offer a smoother drive in better mileage. Increased mileage and fuel efficiency also result in lower emission of green house gases. No fixed gear ratio and optimum rpm means there is less power loss. This also allows better acceleration than automatic transmission. CVT also allows the engine to rev immediately which means maximum torque is delivered.

The question arises that if CVT really offers a smoother drive and better fuel economy, why has it not completely replaced the automatic and manual transmission? The answer is more related to the overall driving experience rather than the performance offered by CVT. Driving a car with CVT, a driver may not feel the engine accelerating or the gears shifting. It gives a feeling of a slipping clutch and failing transmission and this is where it falls back.

While customer satisfaction has always been a major focus for automobile manufacturers, risking it in the name of technology may not sound very feasible to them. However, looking at the rapid and constant development in technology, we can always hope for the day when power and efficiency would truly be realized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *