Credit the inventors of the NexxtDrive CVT concept with some original thinking, as it's a transmission not quite like anything we've seen before. Using a generator and motor to create a controlled secondary energy path, the NexxDrive directs engine torque through three epicyclical gear sets to effectively create a continuously-variable gear ratio.
Despite the use of the motor and generator, the system isn't just for use with hybrids - although it's said to lend itself nicely to that application. The energy developed with the generator system can be directly fed back into the motor, or stored in a battery pack for future use. With a lack of clutches, pulleys, belts, and chains, the current design is said to be suitable for engines up to 270 HP, and there doesn't appear to be any issues with scaling the technology for larger applications. The layout of this gearbox looks to be perfectly suited to longitudinal engine orientations.
Yes, there are some similarities here to the planetary-based Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive system, and hopefully NexxtDrive's patent lawyers have given this the go-ahead so that we can avoid future posts on intellectual property litigation.