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Volkswagen Ten-Speed To Deliver Better Fuel Economy

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Volkswagen's "old" six-speed DSG transmission doesn't deliver the fuel economy the new ten-speed will.
Volkswagen’s “old” six-speed DSG transmission doesn’t deliver the fuel economy the new ten-speed will.

Automakers are tackling fuel economy in every way imaginable. Today, we’re talking about Volkswagen’s new ten-speed transmission.

The world’s first production-vehicle, Mercedes-Benz’s 1885 Benz Patent-Motorwagen, was graced with a single-speed transmission and a belt-clutch, but not much more. Of course, at something like 0.9 hp, this was all that was necessary to get the Motorwagen in motion. Today’s cars, some of them pushing over 1,000 hp, need multi-gear transmissions for at least a couple of reasons.

For example, if you had a single gear in the 1 MW Koenigsegg Agera One:1, you’d snap your neck or break the car, or both. Multi-gear transmissions allow for smooth acceleration from a stop, a necessity to avoid personal injury or equipment damage. Secondly, multi-gear transmissions help to keep the engine in its most-efficient range, which is why my old three-speed Jeep Wrangler got worse fuel economy than an eight-speed Lexus LS460.

Of course, when the first six-speed transmissions appeared, and then seven-, eight-, and even nine-speed transmissions came along, we had to wonder where it was all headed. Of course, the more “speeds,” that is, gear ratios that a transmission has, the closer those gear ratios are to each other. This means there is less rpm difference between two gears which, in turn, means that the engine can stay in its most-efficient power band. Finally, this helps the vehicle accelerate better and deliver better fuel economy. Interestingly, ten was the magic number that GM and Ford was heading for, but we haven’t seen anything from them, yet.

The nine-speed transmission is officially a thing of the past, with the introduction of Volkswagen’s new ten-speed DSG (dual-clutch) automated manual transmission. Automating this new gearbox will keep shift confusion to a minimum, and should help Volkswagen meet its goals of improving fuel economy by 15% by 2020. Volkswagen hasn’t said which car it will debut on, but its design allow for longitudinal or transverse mounting, making it pretty universal in application, perhaps even future electric vehicles?

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Chimel LoneWolffe  American’s love their automatics, don’t they? Laziness, I think, but don’t quote me on that. Where most of the world still uses manual transmissions, where there is still significant “feel” to the car, when they come to America, they notice the immediate difference when switching to an automatic. In some cases, automakers don’t even offer manual transmission versions of their cars. I worked for Toyota and Lexus for ten years, and I can probable count on my fingers how many manual-transmission cars I worked on, mostly to replace clutches burnt out by hot-doggers or the inexperienced.
    Automatic transmissions, true, offer less “feel” than manual transmissions, but still more than a CVT, which is still a hangup for some people. Have to get their heads out of the ground so they can see the efficiency benefits that the CVT offers.

  2. LoneWolffe How much of a “feel” is there in an automatic gear box? Unlike Europe, most American cars don’t have manual gears, it’s probably not as big a problem to switch to CVT. My Europe stats may be antiquated or specific to France though, I haven’t kept up with the car market there for years.

  3. Chimel  Oh I know, the Wrangler had the aerodynamics of a brick and a 4.0ℓ engine. It would never qualify as a green vehicle!
    As far as CVTs go, and they’ve certainly made quite the advancements in the last decade or so, I think VW is going with the ten-speed instead of CVT because of the driving “feel.” Personally, I think it’s because some people don’t like how the CVTs “feel” when they’re accelerating. Unfortunately, we have a lot to learn about giving up the driving “feel” we’ve become accustomed to for fuel economy. The same happens when people get into an EV. There’s no shifting there, either.
    For the infinite gear ratios, CVTs have it for smooth acceleration and fuel economy, but people are still hung up on the fact that “it doesn’t shift.”

  4. Not a word about the Continuously Variable Transmission gears that’s already used by several manufacturers like Nissan?
    And no, I am afraid that even with 20 gears, your Jeep Wrangler would still be a gas gurgler…

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