Opinion: gearing up and gearing down

By: Matt Wood

There is a definite divergence in cogs brought to bear in trucks and cars that’s not seen in other aspects

Opinion: gearing up and gearing down
Transmission trends are differing between cars and trucks


Living off-grid in a Cold War survivalist bunker for the last couple of decades may be a rather extreme lifestyle choice. But if you have decided that the radioactive fallout has cleared by now and have just re-emerged blinking in the sunlight, you may wonder what on earth is going on in the world of truck and car transmissions.

It seems that the heavy-duty truck has been steadily losing cogs over the last decade or so, yet cars seem to acquiring them. Lexus, GM and Ford are now proudly touting 10-speed automatic transmissions.

 The F-150 Raptor has 10 to choose from, the new Chevrolet Corvette ZL1 shares the blue oval penchant for gears and now Lexus is jumping on the bandwagon with a 10 speed auto in the upcoming LC500.

In the truck world, especially in overseas markets, 12- and 10-speed automated transmissions are gaining popularity.

Truck engines are also getting smaller and more reliant on forced induction and car engines are getting more turbo chargers as well.

Less is apparently more when it comes to the future of truck drivelines but more is more when it comes to car transmissions.

It’s an interesting trend.

Clearly the pursuit of fuel economy and clean emissions is driving this trend.

 The US is moving towards mandated fuel economy requirements for Class 8 (Heavy Duty) prime movers which have seen a surge in popularity of tall final drive ratios, fewer gears and smaller capacity engines.

Integrated drivelines are clearly set to benefit if the process continues.

The goal posts are shifting and what was just a way of putting power to the tailshaft has now become an integral part of maintaining fuel economy and engine speed.

How much of that flows on to Australia remains to be seen, with our higher gross weights and high ambient temperatures.

So right now we remain resolutely wedded to 18 cogs. But who knows what the flow on effect of these global trends will be in the future? A heavy truck CVT?

Maybe its time to head back to the bunker.

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