Belts and pulleys will continue to replace traditional gears in the coming years as more carmakers turn to Continuously Variable Transmissions to suck the fun out of future machines increase fuel economy.

According to a new Automotive News report, by the numbers, about one percent of new vehicles were equipped with a CVT in 2005. By 2010, that number of new vehicles in the U.S. grew to seven percent, thanks largely to Nissan, not to mention an increase in the number of hybrid models sold in America (most of which are fitted with the technology). Experts at IHS Automotive now predict that percentage will more than double by 2016 to 16 percent.

The belt-and-pulley transmission can adjust to an engine's torque in an infinite number of ways, making it more efficient than traditional gearboxes. But CVTs have become the bane of many enthusiasts and critics because of a number of undesirable characteristics – namely the unpleasant 'rubber band' sound they emit under hard acceleration.

According to Automotive News, Japanese carmakers appear especially interested in adding CVTs to their lineups. Honda is widely expected to offer a CVT on its next-generation four-cylinder Accord, Toyota may include a CVT on its future Corolla, and the CVT stalwarts at Nissan introduced its 2013 Altima earlier this year with an upgraded CVT that helps it achieve 38 miles per gallon on the highway.

While CVTs continue to improve, some providing faux programed "shift points" through sport programs or paddle shifters, they remain a non-starter with most enthusiasts we talk to. Further, critics like us can't help but note that with the advent of newer, lighter automatics and dual-clutch gearboxes with more and more speeds (eight speeds are becoming increasingly common, and nine- and ten-speed autos cogswappers on the horizon), the efficiency advantages of the CVT aren't as impressive.

We'll obviously need some sort of pulley mechanism to drag us into the future.


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  • 99 Comments
      Master Austin
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm happy to hear the new 'redesigned" Corolla with a 28 year old transmission might actually have a modern transmission...
      R3TRO
      • 2 Years Ago
      First manuals are threatened into extinction and now traditional automatics? Fine you guys win, look for me sleeping on the bus!
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 2 Years Ago
      I want SO BAD to like the new Altima but good lord is that one boring, bland automobile. Come on Nissan, give me something to work with here.
      JGM038
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have literally never read , heard, or seen anything good about a CVT...........in any vehicle.
      natron3030
      • 2 Years Ago
      People also like terrible top 40 pop songs. What are you doing to do about it?
      to your email L
      • 2 Years Ago
      ' with the advent of newer, lighter automatics and dual-clutch gearboxes with more and more speeds (eight speeds are becoming increasingly common, and nine- and ten-speed autos cogswappers on the horizon), the efficiency advantages of the CVT aren't as impressive.' I agree. I've driven both types and I like the automated manual better.
      ducman69
      • 2 Years Ago
      The biggest problem with CVTs is that they aren't very robust. Most handle very little torque, so a CVT Audi A3 TDI isn't likely to happen, and if it does you could never chip it.
        oRenj9
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ducman69
        That was a problem with the first few generations of VW's DSG too.
      mchlrus1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hate the CVT in my cousins Lancer. Or maybe it's the cheap engine sound. Ya it's both. The only redeeming feature is the cheap cost of the AWC
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      Seems the automakers are in one of two camps, CVTS or multiple geared automatic transmissions which include dual clutch autos. Sadly no love for the manual except from Porsche. Will there come a time when no manuals are available from anyone?
        Lar
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        Also- that seem to be the bad news. The good news is that the CVT and the DSG are two technologies which both seek to replace both the manual transmissions and the conventional automatic transmission. That should be interesting.
        Lar
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        Sooner than we thought :(
      BitRaptor Edyson Pav
      New transmission CVT design by BitRaptor. Is a continuously variable transmission CVT gear only (the only one functional in the world), very compact and lightweight, and which could replace the current systems both for efficiency, simplicity and not least the costs. Because this CVT work only with pinions is better the all other systems by efficiency and high torque transmission. In the web page you will find more explanations, drawings and a short video of a basic prototype. http://www.bitraptor.com/en_edyson_CVT.html The first prototype will be ready for tests during this year. Other possible applications CVT design by BitRaptor are: bicycles, motorcycles, cars, automobils, boats, gearboxes, electric motors, steam and wind turbine, as well as a large number of industrial or agriculture applications whenever is necessary some adjustment of the gear ratio.
      thedriveatfive
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have driven several, all were in slow cars.
      Mark
      • 2 Years Ago
      Enthusiasts shouldn't be looking at vehicles optimized for MPG anyway, which generally are mated to low HP engines and FWD. CVT has a place and that's perfectly fine.
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