We can just imagine a vehicle’s engine yelling to its transmission: “MOAR gears! I need MOAR gears!” And if The General’s engines could speak, they’d probably be doing quite a bit of yelling.
Luckily, the engine’s demands will soon be met thanks to the fact that General Motors will soon release an eight-speed transmission across most of its rear-wheel drive model range. In fact, Chevy has already announced the Hydra-Matic 8L90E heavy-duty eight-speed for the 2015 Corvette Z06, which will allow the new super car to handle 635 lb.-ft. of torque created by the beast that is the supercharged LT4 motor. But some would say that other vehicles in GM’s lineup are in need of an eight-speed even more than the mighty new Z06. And it’s those vehicles, in particular, that represent the majority of the automaker’s sales volume.
For instance, GM’s new range of pickup trucks, such as the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, along with its line of full-size SUVs, and Cadillac luxury vehicles, would benefit greatly from the addition of two more speeds to their gearboxes, as the vehicles currently make do with outmoded six-speed gearboxes.
The good news is that The General will be able to spread the cost of developing the new eight-speed transmission by using it, in various forms of durability, across many vehicles. We expect the new transmission to be a workhorse for The General, and be available in various forms of robustness (such as 8L50, 8L80, 8L90, etc.), in the following vehicles in the near future:
- 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray (reported)
- 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (confirmed)
- Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra
- Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV
- 6th-generation Chevrolet Camaro
- Cadillac ATS, CTS, LTS (the 2014 CTS uses ZF-sourced 8-speed unit)
- Chevrolet SS/Holden Commodore replacement
For those who doubt that the gearbox in question will be used in trucks and SUVs, consider the fact that Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter recently stated that re-calibrating the eight-speed for a non-transaxle use will be relatively easy.
For consumers and car guys like us, the new 8-speed will unquestionably deliver higher fuel economy and better power by allowing the engine to operate at a more optimal RPM range more often. It will also make GM’s vehicles more competitive in relation to its rivals. And at the end of the day, more power, higher efficiency, and a better, more competitive product is really what it’s all about. We just wish the transmission was here
today yesterday… because the competition (RAM, for instance) already has it.