Automakers in the US have a troubling goal ahead of them; they need to reach an average 54.5 mpg for all products sold here, by 2025. With only so much economy left to be squeezed out of growing technologies like cylinder-deactivation and direct injection, the Continuously-Variable Transmission holds a lot of promise.
That is why, Wards Auto reports, General Motors is in the late stages of developing an in-house CVT.
Powertrain Spokesman Tom Read could not confirm that much to Wards, but the automaker has already hosted suppliers at its Global Powertrain Headquarters to discuss parts-sourcing.
CVTs hold promise for delivering better fuel economy because, as their name implies, there are no gears, or “steps,” from vehicle launch to top speed. Instead, the drive ratio between the engine and the driven wheels is infinitely variable until it reaches its maximum.
However, CVTs aren’t without their drawbacks; when General Motors embraced the technology earlier in the millennium, the automaker eventually encountered both issues with production, and drivability problems. They ended up phasing out the in-house CVT, and offer only a Japan-sourced unit in the Spark. The City Express commercial van offers one, too.
But, says Spokesman Read, “GM has unmatched transmission expertise and development resources and is capable of delivering additional CVTs if and when they’re needed.”