There will always be innovations in the automotive world, vehicles have come a very long way since the introduction of the Ford Model T. Usually these innovations fall in line with what at the time is of importance. In the past these have ranged from a vehicles speed and maneuverability, to its safety and comfort. Today, a major concern is fuel prices. Gas prices have been steadily climbing and there is no real sign of that either ending or turning around. Even though it is becoming more expensive to drive, the major shift to either hybrid or electric vehicles has yet to be entirely accepted. So if people are still going to be driving “old fashioned vehicles”, as would be assumed, people will come up with ways to make fuel usage more efficient.
One such innovation that can help save on gas is the continuously variable transmission, or CVT. A CVT seamlessly uses a belt drive to change the gear ratio. Due to its design, you can almost have an infinite number of gear ratios to shift through. As far as a vehicles fuel consumption is concerned, there is no better area in which efficiency is lost than in the transmission. This is due to the fact that the transmission delivers power to the driveshaft, which is what turns the wheels of your vehicle. But when your transmission changes gears, power is lost in the process as there is a moment of idleness. The vehicle then has to work a little harder to make up for the speed lost. This as a sole instance may not seem to make a big difference. But imagine, even on a short drive, how often your vehicle changes gears. Then compound that over the course of a tank of gas. There is a great deal of fuel being used simply trying to make up for the speed lost during the numerous gear shifts throughout a drive.
There are numerous companies that currently use this technology. Subaru, Infiniti, and Nissan are currently the clear leaders in the implementation and design of CVT. There are various reasons for CVT use beyond that of fuel efficiency. There are fewer moving parts in the CVT, which easily translates into fewer chances of something malfunctioning or breaking down. There are also fewer parts that have to connect to the CVT, which also results in the potential for fewer problems to occur. The drivetrains durability is also increased, as less strain is being put onto it. The reason for this is that the power being delivered to the CVT is not fluctuating and is at constant rate. You can liken this to the wear and tear on brakes in stop and go traffic. Obviously if you didn’t have to stop as frequently as you go, the breaks would last longer. The same idea can be applied to CVTs, if you didn’t have to make up for lost speed when shifting gears, fuel efficiency increases and the wear and tear on the drivetrain is lessened.
CVTs have been around for some time, oddly, or perhaps not, the first to stumble upon its usefulness was Leonardo Di Vinci. But since his discovery, it has been used in numerous types of machines, form farm to textile and manufacturing equipment. It has only recently begun to make its way into the automotive realm, but it is doing so with great success. It is more efficient fuel wise, is prone less to failure, and provides constant power which in the end means more total power.
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