GENEVA -- The Rolls-Royce Wraith, a fastback that debuts this fall, will use satellite data that detect changing road conditions to help shift its ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
The GPS-based system can see the altitude, grade and road curves for several miles ahead. The gearshift patterns are controlled to ensure that the car is in the correct gear and maintains power, CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes said this month at the auto show here.
Information from the navigation system also can be used to optimize the gear changes by predicting the driver's next move.
"For example, the car understands that you may exit the autobahn in 100 meters and for that reason you need to shift down," Mueller-Oetvoes said.
The satellite-aided shifting technology was developed by a Rolls-Royce engineer who had begun developing it while assigned to BMW's Formula One team. Rolls-Royce is the first to get the system, but parent company BMW AG may use it in future vehicles, Mueller-Oetvoes said.
The Wraith's 6.6-liter V-12 engine generates 624 hp, 61 hp more than Rolls' Ghost sedan. The Wraith shares a platform with the Ghost sedan, but at 207.4 inches long it is 5 inches shorter than the Ghost. The 122.5 inch wheelbase is 7.2 inches shorter.