CVTs hold no allure at Hyundai
O’Brien: “Dual-clutch has a better future with us.”
LAS VEGAS -- While many automakers are developing continuously variable transmissions to improve fuel economy, Hyundai Motor is heading in another direction.
Inefficiencies in the CVT's basic design have caused Hyundai to pursue dual-clutch transmission technology instead, Mike O'Brien, Hyundai Motor America's vice president of product planning, said here last week at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show.
Several automakers have developed dual-clutch transmissions, which give the immediacy of a manual transmission without the chore of manually rowing through the gears.
Dual-clutch transmissions, which essentially are twin gearboxes linked by a pair of clutches, are usually operated in a fully automatic mode, though some allow the driver to shift gears manually.
Where dual-clutch transmissions fall short is in the difficulty of engaging smooth shifts between gears.
"Dual-clutch has a better future with us," said O'Brien. "It has better fuel-economy advantages. It's better for the enthusiast driver. It matches [our product philosophy] better."
Hyundai offers a dual-clutch transmission in the Veloster coupe, but O'Brien's comments hint at broader Hyundai applications in future products.
While the CVT is a smoother transmission without defined shift-points, it suffers frictional losses from dragging the transmission's steel belt around pulleys in its search to find the optimum operating range. And a large hydraulic pump is required to clamp the pulleys together to deliver the power to the wheels.
Both those result in power losses that reduce the CVT's performance and fuel economy, O'Brien said. Also, CVTs are limited to small-displacement engines with low torque.
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