Hyundai: Dual-clutch transmissions match us better than CVTs
LAS VEGAS -- While many automakers are developing continuously variable transmissions as a means to stretch fuel economy, Hyundai Motor is heading in the opposite direction.
Inefficiencies in the CVT's basic design has caused Hyundai to chase dual-clutch transmission technology instead, Mike O'Brien, Hyundai Motor America vice president of product planning, said Monday on the sidelines of the Specialty Equipment Market Association show.
Dual-clutch transmissions give the immediacy of a manual transmission without the chore of manually rowing through the gears. Several automakers have developed dual-clutch technology -- the auto enthusiast media have almost uniformly declared VW and Audi the masters of DCTs.
Where dual-clutch transmissions fall short is in the difficulty of engaging smooth shifts between gears, which can be clunky or jarring when done poorly.
"Dual-clutch has a better future with us. It has better fuel-economy advantages. It's better for the enthusiast driver. It matches [our product philosophy] better," O'Brien said.
Hyundai offers a dual-clutch transmission in the Veloster coupe, but O'Brien's comments would hint at broader Hyundai applications in future products.
While a "smoother" transmission without defined shift-points, CVTs suffer frictional losses from dragging the transmission's steel belt around its pulleys in its search to find the optimum operating range. Meanwhile, a large hydraulic pump is required to clamp the pulleys together to deliver the power to the wheels.
Both those create parasitic power losses that degrade the CVT's performance and fuel economy, O'Brien said. What's more, the "rubber band" feeling of the CVT as it hunts for its best ratio is not conducive to enthusiastic driving. Also, CVTs are limited to smaller engine displacements with lower torque, limiting their applications.
The four-cylinder versions of the 2013 Honda Accord and Nissan Altima mid-sized sedans are offered only with CVTs as their automatic transmission choice.
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