Over the past decade, Honda has made considerable progress in engine technology but, as far as gearboxes go, the carmaker has been a bit of a laggard; the old gearboxes were a bit of a let-down and a bottleneck. Now, the manufacturer is working on developing new automatic gearboxes for cars across its portfolio. The carmaker’s plan to focus on new automatic gearboxes is aimed at two things; maximising the potential and improving the efficiency of its engines. Honda will essentially employ three different types of automatic gearboxes and assign their application according to the type of car and segment it belongs to.
Smaller cars such as the Jazz and Brio hatchbacks are likely to use the current CVT gearboxes while sedans such as the Civic could adopt a new eight-speed dual clutch gearbox. Honda is also experimenting with pairing the eight-speed dual-clutch 'box with a torque converter to smoothen some of the jerkiness often associated with dual-clutch gearboxes. This should aid in increasing the clutch lifespan as well.
However, flagship models such as the Accord and other larger Hondas will receive the ZF-designed nine-speed torque convertor (ZF 9HP) that’s found on the new Range Rover Evoque and Jeep Cherokee. Cars like the Honda Accord currently use a CVT but the manufacturer is not happy with the ‘drive feel’. The broad ratio spread (9.8:1) of the ZF nine-speed automatic is likely to be similar to the CVT and could reduce fuel consumption and improve drivability too.
Under the ‘Earth Dreams’ banner, Honda is also working on new turbo-petrol engines. Hence, it’s a logical move for the carmaker to invest in superior gearboxes that will help extract the most out of its current and downsized engines.
The addition of advanced, high-efficiency and sophisticated gearboxes should reduce transmission losses and help Honda engineers extract significantly better performance and fuel efficiency.