TOKYO -- You've heard about nine-speed dual-clutch transmissions and even 10-speed automatics. But how about an 11-speed triple-clutch gearbox?
That's what Honda Motor Co. may have in store, according to a recent patent filing.
The 11-speed would be a world's first and would achieve better fuel economy and faster shifting response, Honda said in a filing with the Japan Patent Office.
On paper, the proposed transmission features 11 speeds and three clutches. Adding the third clutch helps reduce a drop in torque during a gear change, according to the filing, which the patent office made public this year after its December 2014 filing.
Adding the extra gears helps deliver better fuel efficiency, Honda says.
The design also cuts interference between the transmission's input shafts, allowing them to have smaller diameters. That, in turn, allows a smaller, lighter transmission.
It is unclear when or how Honda might deploy the new gearbox.
"How to use this technology has not been decided yet," a Honda spokeswoman said, adding that the company was still considering what model might need to employ an 11-speed triple-clutch transmission. "It is uncertain at the moment."
Honda is an outlier among Japanese automakers in using dual-clutch transmissions, which are touted for improving fuel efficiency while keeping a more direct acceleration feel. Japanese automakers typically stick with traditional automatics or continuously variable transmissions.
Honda uses a seven-speed double-clutch transmission in the hybrid versions of the HR-V subcompact crossover and Fit subcompact sold in Japan. A version of the Acura RLX sedan gets a seven-speed double-clutch, while the Acura TLX sedan uses an eight-speed. Meanwhile, the redesigned NSX sports car boasts a nine-speed double-clutch transmission.