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GM working on 7-/8-speed transmissions

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GM: Eight-Speeds on the Way
New gearboxes being studied
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by Joseph Szczesny | (2007-10-15) | Link to Original Article @ TCC


General Motors isn't giving away any of the specifics just yet, but it does have a seven- and even an eight-speed automatic transmission tucked away in its product development cycle.

Jim Lanzon, executive director of GM Powertrain's Transmission Engineering, acknowledged last week GM is looking at the transmissions that have begun showing up on luxury models such as the BMW M5.

"I can't give away any new product news but we're looking at everything," he said.

One of the issues GM is wrestling with now is whether a seven- or eight-speed transmission will produce the kind of gains in fuel economy that would justify the cost of engineering them into a vehicle, Lanzon said.

"There is more to making a seven- or eight-speed transmission than adding more modules. You've got to be concerned about the parasitic losses that neutralize the fuel-economy gains," he said.

Lanzon emphasized GM already has the skills needed to put a seven-speed or eight-speed transmission into production very quickly and at relatively low cost. In the past four years, GM, with the aid of computerized tools, has launched nine new six-speed transmission models. In the past, GM would spend a decade developing three or four new transmissions.

The new technology utilized by GM has shaved as much as six months and $15 million from the typical development of a transmission, Lanzon said. The technology also saved the company more than $100 million during the latest development cycle, which has put six-speed transmission in everything from the Chevrolet Corvette to mid-size crossover vehicles, he said.

The technology also has helped boost the quality and dependability of the new units, which have had few changes, Lanzon said. Not only are the costs down, but the quality has improved, he said.

Lanzon said GM's transmission engineers are using sophisticated math modeling, among other advanced tools, to not only design the transmission components, but also to predict and test their reliability, analyzing functions such as oil pressure and flow, lubrication distribution and shift quality.
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much more than 6 speeds and you're better off spending development money on CVTs.

Even under normal driving conditions, the tach on my 5-speed CTS only swings about 500rpm.

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So we're looking at a slow roll-out starting in 2020 and full line availability in 2025? Please, as slow as GM Powertrain is with rolling out engines and transmissions, telling us they have these in development is nearly pointless.

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much more than 6 speeds and you're better off spending development money on CVTs.

Eventually someone is going to come out with a CVT that doesn't suck and people will reap the benefits. I hope.

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One of the issues GM is wrestling with now is whether a seven- or eight-speed transmission will produce the kind of gains in fuel economy that would justify the cost of engineering them into a vehicle, Lanzon said.

"One of the issues GM is wrestling with now is whether a seven- or eight-speed transmission will produce the kind of gains in fuel economy that would justify the cost of engineering them into a vehicle, Lanzon said.

Lanzon emphasized GM already has the skills needed to put a seven-speed or eight-speed transmission into production very quickly and at relatively low cost. In the past four years, GM, with the aid of computerized tools, has launched nine new six-speed transmission models. In the past, GM would spend a decade developing three or four new transmissions.

Those statements seem to be contradictory in a broader sense. Most of the cost associated is in the development of a system and then a little in the adaptation or "engineering" of the transmission to a particular vehicle. Which makes me say, "Either bring it out or don't tell us about it."

So we're looking at a slow roll-out starting in 2020 and full line availability in 2025? Please, as slow as GM Powertrain is with rolling out engines and transmissions, telling us they have these in development is nearly pointless.

Yeah that may probably happen. GM needs to speed up their inception to production time. It seems like they get a woman pregnant but she takes 27 months to deliver the baby, more like a whale pregnancy.

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The current 6-speeds went into development in 2003 and rolled out in the Aura, GMT-900 SUVs, STS and XLR in '06, Lambdas Malibu and CTS in '07.

It's just me, but it looks like they usually wait for a model/platform redesign before they put the 6-speed in.... though I don't know what year was the first year for the G6 with 6A. 3-5 years turn around time isn't bad for something as complicated as a transmission.

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My problem is that they still have 4-spd transmissions in their vehicles. If they can't put a 6-spd in every vehicle (mid-size and larger), fine. But it standard transmission should at least be a 5-spd in every vehicle 2 years ago.

What kills me about GM is that they don't realize how late to the party they are and when they do stuff like the above, they wear a crap-eating grin and pat themselves on the back like they've done something special. Yet they're still putting those worthless push-rod V6s in their vehicles, they're still putting 4-spds in their large cars/SUVs and they still don't understand why OFFERING a navigation system in their vehicles is important.

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My problem is that they still have 4-spd transmissions in their vehicles. If they can't put a 6-spd in every vehicle (mid-size and larger), fine. But it standard transmission should at least be a 5-spd in every vehicle 2 years ago.

What kills me about GM is that they don't realize how late to the party they are and when they do stuff like the above, they wear a crap-eating grin and pat themselves on the back like they've done something special. Yet they're still putting those worthless push-rod V6s in their vehicles, they're still putting 4-spds in their large cars/SUVs and they still don't understand why OFFERING a navigation system in their vehicles is important.

Yeah I was one of the major supporters of GM being slow in rolling 6-speeds in GMT 900's. But now it is the third MY when they "may" finally get it in all of them. Not good. Yeah you make close to a million vehicles, but please three years pushing into a vehicle design to introduce something across the line is going overboard. With four speeds, W-bodies, 4.3l, 3.5l V-6 they are milking a long dead cow.

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Yeah and we can expect to see these 7 and 8 speed trannys out in the year 2525 if man is still alive.

Haha, beat you to it. :P

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Hopefully they get them on the market semi fast. But they do need to get rid of all the 4 speeds first, even the cobalt and Aveo should get at least a 5 speed auto. The GMT900s need a six speed. Cadillac is going to need 7 or 8 if they want to keep up with the market. The next 5-series and 7-series will be 8-speed automatic.

I hope they act fast, Cadillac is a follower right now, and Lexus and BMW are dictating what goes in the market, and setting the standards. Even with an 8 speed automatic on a Cadillac (in 2010 or so), they will just be equaling what Lexus did on the 2007 LS. It would be nice for once for Lexus or BMW to be chasing Cadillac, but I am thinking that is becoming more and more unlikely.

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The gear split on a 6 speed auto is already tight enough, I don't think more gears is going to help at all, unless they put it into the Corvette or other vehicle capable of 200mph+. Otherwise it's just bragging rights. I think the money could be better spent in engine tech to increase fuel economy.

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I hope they act fast, Cadillac is a follower right now, and Lexus and BMW are dictating what goes in the market, and setting the standards. Even with an 8 speed automatic on a Cadillac (in 2010 or so), they will just be equaling what Lexus did on the 2007 LS. It would be nice for once for Lexus or BMW to be chasing Cadillac, but I am thinking that is becoming more and more unlikely.

Please tell me what an 8-speed transmission in the LSwhatever represents besides a weak dick-measuring contest.

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Bowtie Dude is right, GM is really late to the party and they don't even realize it. They don't realize they don't have a choice with what they make anymore, they have to build what others are doing. Lexus, BMW, Mercedes have 7-8 speed so Cadillac must do it. Accord and Camry are all DOHC so the Malibu has to be. They are chasing the trends and standards set by others. I don't remember the last time Honda, Toyota, or BMW saw some thing GM did and said, wow we have to copy that. Aside from making a pickup truck maybe. Of course Toyota went with 381 hp and 6 speed automatic vs the Silverado's 315 hp and 4-speed, at least the Silverado is really good in so many other areas to make up for it.

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My problem is that they still have 4-spd transmissions in their vehicles. If they can't put a 6-spd in every vehicle (mid-size and larger), fine. But it standard transmission should at least be a 5-spd in every vehicle 2 years ago.

What kills me about GM is that they don't realize how late to the party they are and when they do stuff like the above, they wear a crap-eating grin and pat themselves on the back like they've done something special. Yet they're still putting those worthless push-rod V6s in their vehicles, they're still putting 4-spds in their large cars/SUVs and they still don't understand why OFFERING a navigation system in their vehicles is important.

The Cobalt, W-bodies, and G-bodies were too far along or too old to get the 6-speed..... and let's be realistic here, does anyone really think that putting a 6-speed in the Grand Prix, LaCross, Impala, Lucerne or DTS would have improved sales? Lucerne is already outselling everything in it's class except the 300, would putting a 6-speed in there mean that it outsells the 300?

No, as long as GM continues to put the new transmissions into it's new models, I have no problem with the method of their rollouts. All of the models that currently have only a 4-speed available are due to be replaced in the next 2.5 years. Then you can start harping on GM for still offering "only" 5 speeds.

As for them doing something special... they've put a 6-speed auto in a mid priced family car and have it NOT cough up two of it's gears. That is "Moving Forward"

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The only way you *really* need and 8 speed is if you're adding a gear ratio on either end of the spectrum. If you're taking the same spectrum of gear ratios and just slicing it up more frequently, you're not really improving much.

If GM does an 8 speed, I'd really like to see them keep the first 6 gears the same as they are now, but label 6th as low overdrive, 7th as medium overdrive, and 8th as high overdrive. Most of GM's engines are good for low rpm torque, so having a 3.6 liter V6 cruise along at 80mph turning 1500rpm would be pretty sweet.

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Please tell me what an 8-speed transmission in the LSwhatever represents besides a weak dick-measuring contest.

Since it was the first 8 speed automatic in a car, it makes Lexus look like the technology leader. The LS460 gets 16/24 mpg which edges the 15/24 from the STS with 60 fewer hp, it beats the BMW 750i also, so the transmission must help in some fashion. It is likely that the 8 speed offers almost no advantage over a 7 speed, and only marginal over a 6 speed, but it is perception. People see 8 speed or 400 hp and they want that more than 6 speed and 320 hp.

The 5-series is getting an 8-speed, so if the CTS is a 5-series competitor, they will need an 8 speed also, otherwise there are in the Acura, Lincoln, Volvo luxury tier, which are all going more towards a premium brand, not a luxury brand.

I am just saying GM has to keep up with the market, whether it makes total sense or not. They neglected mid size sedans for years, now the Malibu is 100,000s of sales behind the Accord and Camry. They neglected minivans and didn't match what Honda was doing, now they are down to 1 bad minivan in it's final model year.

Edited by smk4565
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Since it was the first 8 speed automatic in a car, it makes Lexus look like the technology leader. The LS460 gets 16/24 mpg which edges the 15/24 from the STS with 60 fewer hp, it beats the BMW 750i also, so the transmission must help in some fashion. It is likely that the 8 speed offers almost no advantage over a 7 speed, and only marginal over a 6 speed, but it is perception. People see 8 speed or 400 hp and they want that more than 6 speed and 320 hp.

The 5-series is getting an 8-speed, so if the CTS is a 5-series competitor, they will need an 8 speed also, otherwise there are in the Acura, Lincoln, Volvo luxury tier, which are all going more towards a premium brand, not a luxury brand.

5-series also costs a good 10k-15k more. This will only worsen as the dollar falls.

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Gees, I am glad GM woke up and realized that they need to get up to speed and match BMW, Mercedes and Lexus!!!

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i think 6 speed is enough, but we could use a DSG type tranny.

Agreed. Don't automatics all have parasitic drivetrain losses from the torque converter or whatever? DSGs don't have that, and since gear changes are immediate, additional gears won't be felt. VW is making a 7-speed DSG, because the current 6-speed still isn't enough for diesels, which run out of revs at 4K rpm.

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>>"Of course Toyota went with 381 hp, 401 torque and 6 speed automatic vs the Silverado's 365 hp, 660 torque and the Alison 6-speed, but at least the turdra offers huge incentives to make up for it."<<

FIXED.

BTW- the Silverado standard gas 6.0L offers 353 HP, not 315. Optional Sierra gas engine offers 403 HP & 417 torque. toyoda optionally offers.... 271 hp. Oh what a feeling...

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My problem is that they still have 4-spd transmissions in their vehicles. …

So does Toyota. And Honda is still using 5-speeds when everyone else is rolling out 6-speeds. GM is adding capacity to the 6-speed transmission production as fast as it can afford to. The Malibu's new 4-cylinder 6-speed will be produced in NA as well as Korea, and production is being expanded for the larger 6-speeds as well.
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much more than 6 speeds and you're better off spending development money on CVTs.

Even under normal driving conditions, the tach on my 5-speed CTS only swings about 500rpm.

6-speed autos are already achieving better fuel-economy than CVTs, and in some cases, better than 6-speed manuals in the same vehicle.
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