• Dec 23, 2008
After four years of development, Hyundai has joined the ranks of GM and Ford as the only automaker to develop its own six-speed automatic transmission in-house. The new 'box sheds over 26 pounds and 62 parts from Hyundai's five-speed unit, while increasing fuel economy by 12% and decreasing shift times. Five different variants of the six-speed will be produced, with the 2009 Hyundai Azera equipped with the 3.3-liter Lambda V6 being the first recipient, followed by 16 other models, including the redesigned Santa Fe, due to hit dealers in late 2009 or early 2010. Hyundai claims that the new gearbox is "maintenance free," and lacks a dipstick since the fluid is good for the life of the vehicle (we'll see). Hyundai is also continuing development of its eight-speed automatic which is expected to make it to market sometime next year in the Genesis sedan. Press release below the fold.

PRESS RELEASE

HYUNDAI REVEALS NEW FUEL-EFFICIENT SIX-SPEED AUTO
  • Hyundai becomes only the third company in the world to develop its own six-speed automatic transaxle
  • Boosts fuel economy by 12%, is 12kg lighter and has 62 fewer parts than a 5-speed
  • Set to be rolled out on selected models in 2009 onwards
To help meet its goals of improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions, Hyundai has completed the development of an all-new six-speed automatic transaxle that will boost fuel economy by more than 12.2 percent.

Designed for transverse engine applications in passenger cars and SUVs, the new compact transaxle puts Hyundai into an elite class of auto manufacturers who have designed their own six-speed automatic (after Toyota and a GM/Ford joint venture), demonstrating Hyundai's advanced powertrain engineering capabilities.

"The strength of our design is its completely unique layout, which makes it smaller, more compact and lighter than any other six-speed on the market today," said Hong-Min Kim, the project manager of the transaxle at Hyundai R&D Centre. In fact, the design is so unique and so advanced, Hyundai has applied for nearly 300 patents related to the technology.

The transaxle will first arrive in the new Hyundai Grandeur equipped with a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine. In this application, it delivers a 12.2 percent gain in fuel economy and is 2.5 percent quicker in zero to 62mph (100km/h) acceleration times (7.8sec versus 8.0 sec). It also delivers an 11 percent improvement in 60km/h to 100km/h overtaking performance (4.0 sec versus 4.5 sec).

The unit is also maintenance-free: the gearbox is 'filled for life' with automatic transmission fluid and needs no topping up, reducing servicing costs.
Developed over a four-year period, this new six-speed automatic gearbox offers numerous technical merits. Despite the extra gear, it is 12kg lighter than the five-speed it replaces. It is also 41mm shorter and considerably simpler having 62 fewer parts, which is a key to increased durability and lower cost.

When it comes to gearsets, more is definitely better. The addition of a sixth gear enables closer spacing between ratios providing a better balance of performance and fuel economy, while the wide overall gear ratio helps deliver strong acceleration.

The gearbox has three planetary gearsets whose hallmark is simplicity of design and a unique flat torque converter, which shortens the unit's overall length by 12mm. Four pinion differentials improve durability and further minimise size.

Another example of engineering ingenuity is to be found in the design of the hydraulic pressure control unit. There are always slight manufacturing deviations from one solenoid valve to the next, which cause fluctuation in the hydraulic pressure and affect shift precision and quality. To rectify this, the transaxle features cleverly integrated adjustment screws in the valves which enable each of the eight valves to be calibrated at the factory.

This novel feature ensures stable hydraulic pressure at any shift point, which facilitates a high degree of precision and control needed to deliver ultra-fast, smooth and precise shifts throughout the engine speed range.

The new six-speed went into production this month (December). A total of five variants of the transaxle will be produced to accommodate a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. A total of 16 different Hyundai models will get this transmission including a redesigned Santa Fe, which is due to arrive in late 2009 and early 2010 in some markets.


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  • 31 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      "joined the ranks of GM and Ford as the only automaker to develop its own six-speed automatic transmission in-house."

      That's not possible. I thought the Detroit automakers were dinosaurs, incapable of being technology leaders.
        • 6 Years Ago
        you are correct. I'm sure GM and Ford buy their 6 speeds from Honda. Hopefully they are assembled in Alabama courtesy of tax breaks organized by Sen. Shelby and his buddies. There is NO way GM/Ford could have engineered something before their foreign counterparts. If you dont believe me ask Tom Friedman or George Will.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It says in the actual press release that Toyota and a joint GM/Ford venture were first to develop the 6-speed automatic. It required the resources of both GM and Ford working together to do what Hyundai and Toyota did alone.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think Hyundai, Ford, and Honda are the only companies that will be able to weather the storm, because of the amazing innovation that has come out of all 3 companies.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am really impressed with the leaps and bounds that Hyundai has grown in the past few years.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Same here! That's why i put up a site.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The no dipstick, no fluid change kind of scares me. It might be enough to make me let someone else be the guinea pig and find out how well they last long term, while I buy something more conventional.

      But I'm a lot more conservative at that kind of thing than the average person, which is why I never have anything cutting edge.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The real question is: Could it handle 550hp and 550ft-lb torque from a supercharged LS engine in a 4,000lbs super-sedan? The world may never know...

      But it's not a bad effort I guess.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Doesn't Nissan have already have a 7-speed automatic, and Toyota an 8-speed? What's so great about 6?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Edmunds mention the fact that the 1-2 upshift is pretty big in the ZF 6 speed automatic. 4.171-2.34 56%
        http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=137086

        So if Ford adopted the ZF 8 speed auto ASAP, and programmed it to operate 1-7 in tow/haul 2-8 otherwise, the 2-3 upshift is much smaller 67%

        The Dodge Sprinter REALLY could use the MB 7g-tronic in the same fashion. There is room to shorten the axle ratio up to 14% (forfeiting all mileage gains, so split the difference-7%)
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Temple, lmfao.
        Name ONE Honda with a SIX speed Auto?
        • 6 Years Ago
        1.) Developed in-house
        2.) On much cheaper cars than normal
        • 6 Years Ago
        You should ask what's so great about 7 or 8 speed transmissions. The added gears are useless. The new lexus shifts a gear every second and hunts for gears all the time. Six speed is perfect for most if not all applications. Any more gears is superflous.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Those slushies aren't available on non-luxury vehicles. That's the difference.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Guess Ford's 6 speed in just about everything doesn't count?

        Or GM's 6 speed?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Except 6-speed autos have been available for been on economy cars forever (GM, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, etc etc etc)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Chrysler, buy these through your partnership w/Hyundai. Gives them extra capacity, gives you a credible transmission that is probably far more affordable and reliable than anything you would have gotten from Getrag.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Kudos to Hyundai for new gear box.

      I still feel that the holy grail of transmission is the CVT.

      I still wonder why they don't put CVT in all the cars.

      Prius has CVT. Ford Fusion Hybrid has CVT.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Prius is more of an IVT, not CVT.

        Ratio spread is the name of the game.
        ZF 8A (8hp70) 7:1
        Audi's Multitronic 6.73:1
        Lexus LS460 8A 6.7:1, Lexus LS430 6A 6.6:1, Lexus LS430 5A 4.46:1
        JR710E (JATCO 7 speed auto-G37) 6.38:1
        Chevrolet Malibu 6t40 6.1:1
        ZF 6 speed auto 6.05:1
        Altima I4 6:1
        Camry 6A 5.4:1 (Camry 5A 5.6:1)
        Altima V6 5.4:1
        Mazda3 5A 5.2:1
        Civic 5A 5.1:1
        Accord 5A, 2.4 I4 4.7:1
        Nissan Quest 5A 4.6:1
        Dodge Ram 5A 4.5:1
        Chrysler 300C 4.3:1

        Hopefully Hyundai's 8 speed auto has circa 7.5:1 ;)
        Perfect for the Genesis coupe.

        CVTs days are numbered.
        Sure Audi's Multitronic has enhanced ratio spread, but why drive a front wheel drive car without any traction? (weight distribution < 60/40 front heavy)

        Here's hoping for a 6 speed auto in the Hyundai Accent. Suck on that Yaris!
        • 6 Years Ago
        technically speaking, the transmission used in prius is not CVT.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good for Hyundai. Its nice to see a dedicated auto company coming along in these trying times.
        • 6 Years Ago
        It,s good to have something to show for all the billions of US dollars spent in South Korea over the last 50 years. I toured the Alabama plant ---smooth, quiet efficient.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think this is impressive since Honda hasnt debuted a 6 speed yet. Also the Europeans (at least BMW, Jag and Audi) use trannies developed by third parties. I am not clear on who developed the 7 speed used in Infiniti products but I would be surprised if its an in house design.
        • 6 Years Ago
        BMW used trannies built by GM.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think Hyundai has solidified itself a place in my garage. With this new 6 speed and the 2010 Sonata looking promising I will definitely be getting rid of the old Dodge now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "The new 'box sheds over 26 pounds and 62 parts from Hyundai's five-speed unit, while increasing fuel economy by 12% and decreasing shift times."

      Impressive.
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