RAC Cars News


New Honda gearbox patented

By raccars Published

Honda CR-V

New Honda triple-clutch unit is patented. Will it beat Ford when it comes to hitting the roads?

A new Honda gearbox has been patented that boasts no less than three clutches and 11 gears.

The patent has been filed for the new Honda transmission which aims to boost efficiency whilst minimising the torque loss during gear changes that often occurs with dual-clutch systems. The gearbox also allows for the skipping of gears and should reduce shift times.

Honda currently makes use of single-speed CVT, or continuously variable transmissions, in smaller cars. These are known to be more fragile, limiting their suitability to smaller vehicles when ease of use and simplicity is of paramount importance.

The new gearbox, meanwhile, has been created to increase efficiency, making it appropriate for a wide variety of new Honda cars.

A question mark over new Honda gearbox use

The company has not announced when the 11-speed transmission will be used in one of its vehicles. The new Honda CR-V and new Honda Civic are on their way but these will not feature the new gearbox.

A Honda spokesperson said that the transmission had just been patented, meaning that it won’t be feature in any vehicles ‘for a while’.

Despite the patent, it is not even certain that the new Honda gearbox will ever go into production, although if it did, and it proved a success, it would almost certainly prompt other manufacturers to follow suit.

Honda has said that there are not any plans at the moment to bring the new transmission to the UK, although that could change in the future.

At present, the gearbox featuring the most gears is the General Motors and Ford Motor Company ten-speed automatic unit. This is being offered in the Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

First for Ford

Ford, which is believed to be working on the creation of an 11-speed transmission, claims to be the first company to bulk produce a ten-speed automatic gearbox for general consumer use.

The ten-speed automatic can feature in the Ford F-150 with a 3.5 EcoBoost V6. The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a lower-volume option, despite being the product of the exact same development programme. GM and Ford collaborated in the design of the new transmission.

The ten-speed torque converter-based automatic is said to offer better performance and economy in comparison to six-speed options. This is, in part, due to reduced weight and three overdrive ratios.

The weight is controlled thanks to the use of alloys and ‘advanced materials’ to replace cast-iron components.

Why are more gears better?

It is generally accepted that more gears mean more options. This means that drivers can benefit from super-short ratios when they want to get off the mark quickly but still have the option of higher ratios to offer super-low RPM and economical cruising when travelling at higher speeds.

The number of gears means that drivers don’t have to face huge leaps between ratios, something that can decrease the efficiency of the engine by making it labour and which can thus hamper acceleration.

A greater choice of gears should allow engines to be kept in their optimum performance range, leading to improved economy and a reduction in emissions.

A reduction in shift times should also boost performance and gear changes will be smoother as speed changes in the gearbox’s components are reduced.

For manufacturers focusing on the higher gear numbers, there is also a potential marketing boost on offer. There is no doubt that ten and 11-speed transmissions sound so much more advanced than six or seven-speed alternatives.

This is one of the reasons why work is going on around the world in the quest for the perfect 11-speed automatic. It is believed that Ford has already filed patents in relation it its 11-speed plans.

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