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The Chrysler 300 will be a recipient of the new 9-speed automatic transmission.
A 16% improvement in fuel efficiency is expected from nine-speed transmission

Automakers are pulling out all the stops and looking to squeeze every single mile per gallon out of their automobiles by any means necessary. Automakers are looking at more fuel-efficient engines with smaller displacements, but they're also looking at reducing the weight of vehicles and increasing the number of forward gears used in car/truck transmissions. 
Adding forward gears to a transmission makes a lot of sense because the slower the engine spins, the less fuel it consumes. In years past automatic transmissions used in vehicles commonly had four or five forward gears. More recent vehicles are moving up to six-speed and in some cases even eight-speed automatic transmissions in luxury vehicles. Chrysler is eyeing even more gears inside with nine-speed gearboxes for more mainstream vehicles.
According to Mircea Gradu, vice president transmission powertrain driveline engineering, Chrysler will roll out its first nine-speed transmission by the first half of 2013. “I’m convinced that, sooner or later, others will come up with similar solutions,” Gradu said in an interview from his office in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where Chrysler is based. “Hopefully, the time will be as long as possible until they catch up with the technology.”
Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne believes that the automaker and its various brands will be able to meet looming fuel-efficiency standards by using technology that improves traditional gasoline engines combined with better transmissions rather than moving to plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles. CAFE standards will reach 54.5 mpg by 2025.
Michael Omotoso, a powertrain analyst at LMC Automotive, said, "They’re [Chrysler] doing basically the bare minimum to satisfy government regulations. Their strategy is to meet the standards with minimum investment.”
Bloomberg reports that the nine-speed transmission Chrysler is developing could boost fuel economy of certain models by as much as 16%. Chrysler has already scored a 15% boost in the highway fuel economy of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger by adding an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Source: Business Week

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By Beenthere on 8/1/2012 9:53:22 AM , Rating: 1
The absurd CAFE standards that auto makers are being forced to meet is leading to very expensive designs that consumers will be forced to pay for or go without an auto.

7-8-9 speed trans are a means to achieve a reliable, high torque capacity "CVT" type design. Yes lowering the engine RPM up to a point reduces fuel consumption and this will work for steady state crusing conditions.

When you need to accelerate however then the trans will need to downshift or the driver will need to use considerably more throttle, so there isn't a free lunch here.

***The added gears may however help meet the absurd EPA CAFE mandates (in the test lab), and be of less value in actual road use.***

By ihateu3 on 8/1/2012 10:24:33 AM , Rating: 4
So when a person needs to accelerate in a lesser geared transmission, you think it would be more fuel efficient or somehow add performance value?

More gears in a transmission not only offers greater fuel efficiency, but also offers greater acceleration and more precise control over the desired acceleration...

Half throttle in a 2 speed drops you into first, half throttle in a 5 speed drops you to 2nd or 3rd, while half throttle in a 9 speed may drop you to 6th.

Finer control
Better acceleration
Better fuel economy

Only downfall to this idea is barely added weight, and also overall reliability until the system has its bugs worked out. Once the bugs are worked out, it will prove to be a better option to what is currently offered. You don't see many 5 speed autos failing more often than 3 speed autos, but I am sure people condemned the 5 speed autos when they where new also...

If anything, I would think you would welcome this, as it adds better fuel efficiency without a hit to performance, it actually helps performance, and lastly is an American car company trying to create technology for once. This does not happen often... I think it is a great idea, that will be surpassed by the Japanese once they give it their go, they had already beat Mercedes to the punch to the 7 speed transmission by skipping over them and creating the worlds first 8 speed auto transmission... Pretty sure that was in 2006

By Mitch101 on 8/1/2012 11:10:05 AM , Rating: 2
As someone who owned One Chrysler and 3 transmissions before selling the car I hope that someone else makes the transmission for them.

By Samus on 8/2/2012 1:53:39 AM , Rating: 3
All the transmissions that failed on you were probably made for Chrysler by Mitsubishi.

But it isn't entirely Mitsubishi's fault. For example, for almost two decades, Chrysler used the F4A22-2 transmission supplied by Mitsubishi in their minivans with 3.0l and 3.3l V6's. These transmissions were rated for light vehicle use (they were common in the Galant and the Hyundai Sonata, which used the same Mitsubishi V6 as the Galant.)

Chrysler thought they'd out-wit the laws of physics putting a transmission rated for a 3000lb vehicle in a 4000lb vehicle with half the aerodynamics. Obviously most of these transmissions needed multiple rebuilds because the overdrive bands burned up or the 1st gear solenoids failed.

By inperfectdarkness on 8/2/2012 7:46:41 AM , Rating: 1
the f4a33/w4a33 is one of the most bulletproof transmissions ever put into a car. legions of DSM guys are running 9's with them.

i would say it's chrysler that doesn't know how to build a transmission worth a crap.

for what it's worth though, most consumers don't need more than 4 non-overdrive forward speeds. 5 if you count the 5th as 1:1. overdrive has been a shortcoming on production automobiles for quite some time (especially on fleet vehicles that get a lot of mileage). .50:1 isn't a great ratio for accelerating, but it's terrific for crusing at 75mph on the highway.

there is a reason semi-trucks may have anywhere from 9 to 18 different forward gears. i'm glad to see that automakers in the past 10 years have finally began to offer the consumer choices that should have been offered back in 1974.

By NellyFromMA on 8/2/2012 12:32:11 PM , Rating: 2
It also offers greater complexity to the engineering of and repair/maintenance of the transmission. Expect more failures and more expensive service. A very simple rule of mechanics (and engineering as a whole) is the more moving parts, the more points of failure.

Yes, you can get greater performance and / or as a result potentially greater mpg. However, at what TRUE COST will that come at? It's not really feasible to simply complicate the transmission (already essentially the most complicated part of a vehicle) and make it MORE prone to failure.

People do not understand how this supremely negatively effects the life of a vehicle before major transmission repair is necessary... Thanks, but no thanks. I'd rather pay the gas prices with my 31mpg integra over this

By DrApop on 8/1/2012 10:27:34 AM , Rating: 2
Oh please...I don't want to hear those absurd complaints. For close to 30 years the CAFE standards hardly moved/auto lobbies got them blocked. So for 30 years after the oil embargo of the 70's, auto companies did very very little except sit on their a$$es.
Now all of a sudden they are complaining because they actually have to do something. If they had spent all those wasted years working on the problem, it wouldn't cost an arm and a leg to implement it.

Perhaps you ought to not think about it as being forced to raise standards. Instead, think of it as asking/telling auto companies that they have to do the American thing and blaze the trail of innovation instead of becoming complacent and growing a far a$$.

By Ringold on 8/1/2012 11:08:23 AM , Rating: 5
Foreign car manufacturers (Toyota, Honda specifically) already did that in the ways that, you know, people actually cared about. Driving around any parking lot for the last 20 years tells you that the auto-industry changed, and for the better, with Japanese auto's pushing forward with reliability and quality.

What people didn't care about was fuel efficiency. The Insight has been around since the late 90s I think, and never has been particularly popular. People cared more about the other stuff that's added hundreds of pounds to the weight of vehicles. Why would've they spent years solving a problem that only existed in the minds of environmentalist fringe groups? Why spend the money to "blaze the trail of innovation" that the Insight showed people didn't want to buy at the time? Simply because you think they should?

Unfortunately for them though, now the EPA's packed full of those environmentalists. Just don't pretend its the peoples will; money talks. Even in trucks, there's a reason the Ranger and Colorado have been dieing a slow death.. People dont want more fuel efficient, less expensive light trucks; they vote with their money on full-size Ram 1500s, F150s and Silverados.

But yes, we know that you're intellectually superior to everybody and America's companies should conform to your views and America's consumers should buy what you think they should buy.

By jeffkro on 8/2/2012 2:03:05 AM , Rating: 2
The ranger and Colorado were lagging because of poor design. Toyota sells tons of Tacoma's.

By mindless1 on 8/2/2012 2:29:15 AM , Rating: 3
That is the most ignorant thing I have read here in a long time. Since the 70's automobiles have gained (and in some cases then lost again):

- Driver air bag
- Passenger air bag
- Side air bags
- Auto climate control in non-luxury vehicles
- Front Wheel Drive
- Electronic Engine Control
- Motor driven fans
- Fuel Injection
- Anti-lock brakes
- Tire pressure sensing
- High intensity headlights
- Streamlined designs
- Higher crash resistance
- higher MPG to weight ratio (safety features don't come free, they weigh more)
- Mass produced ELECTRIC CAR
- too many other things to keep adding to this list

Adding a few gears and acting like that is finally doing something after no activity is just absurd.

They HAVE spent years working on and achieving better automobiles. There's no way I would consider driving a 1970's car as a primary vehicle, only as a toy, if it was a classic convertible only driven slow around town on the weekend just to show it off.

The "American thing" is free market. Let them choose to build whatever they want to and the consumer buys what they want WITHOUT it being forced upon them through government. The government is not supposed to force things upon the people, it is instead supposed to represent the will of the people which could have already been expressed by what they choose to purchase.

All that government intervention does is bad - it removes freedom of choice.

So if this works so well then....
By 225commander on 8/1/2012 9:51:06 AM , Rating: 2
Why has it *not* been introduced yet(in mainstream) vehicles for consumers? I realize high # gear tranny's have been around in different racing circuits awhile. It seems to me that this 'innovation' i.e. adding more gears, would run counterproductive to the goal of weight reduction. I would also assume that potential maintenance, amount of fluid required, and rate of failure + cost to build would also offset some of the 'gain' in MPG. Also, if a high number of gears are used in a transmission then it stands to reason that you could run your engine at a much more narrow RPM range(and lower too) which leads me to believe that diesel would potentially benefit the most from such a change in drive train.

I always thought that a transmission (manual or auto) that had maybe 4-5 gears would work great if the spacing(ratios) between gears were setup differently. For instance, 1st would remain the same , then '2nd' would be more like 2.6, then '3rd' would be where 4th previously was, and finally '4th' would be like 6th or what used to be called 'overdrive'. Alternatively for vehicles with rear wheel drive would not a 2 gear rear end setup not work well with a 3 spd gear box up front, which would effectively be a '6 speed'?

RE: So if this works so well then....
By retrospooty on 8/1/2012 11:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
I dunno... I think of Chrysler and adding complexity like a 9 gear tranny, and think of failures. I think of being stuck on the side of the road waiting for a tow.

RE: So if this works so well then....
By DiscoWade on 8/1/2012 3:05:53 PM , Rating: 3
My first thought was why is Chrysler making 9 gears when they can't even do 1 right.

By YashBudini on 8/1/2012 7:41:16 PM , Rating: 2
Currently 9 will get you bragging rights. It's just a way to outdo your competition, though not in any meaningful way.

I don' like 'em
By Landiepete on 8/1/2012 10:51:55 AM , Rating: 3
Engines do not consume less fuel the slower they run. They consume te least fuel when they are operating as close as possible to the spec they are designed for.

Using more speeds yields 2 advantages :

1. you can design an engine to work in a very narrow powerband, optimizing it for that powerband.
2. you can use the 9 speeds to keep the engine in this powerband almost irrespective of the speed you are driving. The box will simply select the gear that keeps the engine in that powerband.

Now, all this is very jolly. Until you actually try it. The box is constantly shifting. So other technologies are introduced, like pre-emptive shifting. Which means whatever the computer thinks the next gear you'll want next is already selected so it's ready when you need it. But for this you need even more moving parts. Something like a DSG.
Now, things are working wonderfully well. UNTIL, that is, you want something different from what the computer has selected for you. Let's say you are slowly accelerating (fuel efficiency is importing to you. You're trying to avoid hammering the go pedal). The computer has already selected the next gear up. At which time the geriatric in front of you is looking for his pipe, and you decide you need to pass him, and you DO press the go pedal. The box has to decide what the new parameters are, unselect the higher gear, put in the new lower gear, and haul ass. The shock in the driveline is scary. I tried it wit a VW, and t was not happy.

Generally though, you won't feel a thing. Untill you're motoring along in traffic and start watching the rev counter. The thing is going up and down constantly, indicating the box is working all the time. I estimate a VW DSG box shifts 2-3 thimes more often than a regular 5 speed torque convertor box.
And this is where I get worried. It would mean you're looking at a worn out box close to 80-90K miles. Which would NOT make me a happy camper if I'd spent 50K on a new car 2.5 years ago.

RE: I don' like 'em
By m51 on 8/1/2012 7:17:46 PM , Rating: 3
Some clarifications.

You have to remember than 99% of the time engines are not operating at full throttle. Even at cruise speed on the highway the demand is only in the 15-20 hp region. Max HP is only needed for high speeds, going up hills, or most importantly acceleration. Gasoline engines operating at partial load ARE more efficient at low RPMs because of the reduced friction and pumping (throttle) losses.

HP = Torque x RPM

For maximum acceleration you want a transmission that can let the engine operate at it's point of maximum HP (usually near redline) no matter what the speed of the car. This allows you to have a higher amount of usable HP available across the speed range.

This gives you a torque curve at the wheels of maximum torque at zero velocity with the torque decreasing as speed increases. This is essentially the torque curve of electric motors and why they can work so well in cars (and why Tesla can get away with a single speed transmission and still achieve 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds out of a 288 hp motor).

If you must use a transmission with only a few gears you have to use a larger motor to give you the same acceleration for those regions where the motor must operate outside it's peak hp point.

So more gears lets you use a smaller engine to achieve the same acceleration performance. Smaller engine has less friction, less throttle losses, and lower weight. All these increase fuel efficiency.

For maximum efficiency at cruise speed you want a high gear ratio that lets the engine operate at lower RPM with a higher intake manifold pressure (throttle more open). This is not as important for diesel engines because they don't have throttle losses.

Modern automatics are more expensive than manuals. However modern automatics are as efficient and in many cases more efficient than manuals, especially with the vast majority of drivers. In the old days there was considerably power wastage in the torque converter in automatics, but modern designs with such systems as lockup up torque converters and dual-clutch transmissions don't have those losses anymore.

The current trend toward dual-clutch automatics does increase costs somewhat, but the performance is much superior to manual transmissions. They can also be configured for manual paddle shifting if desired giving the driver full shifting control. Shifts can be much smoother than single clutch automatics let alone manuals and shift times are in the 100 millisecond range, way beyond the capability of any manual. The same transmission system can operate fully automatic, or manually at the drivers preference.

Also new and different does not necessarily mean less reliable. Current engines with fuel injection and engine computers etc are more complex than say an old air cooled VW, but they can also be much more reliable. Although it may be mentally convenient to make generalizations you have to periodically reevaluate them as things change.

With the electronically controlled automatics the driver can input a desired up or down shift intention to the transmission so it doesn't make a wrong shift decision. McLaren uses this feature in their MP4-12C and calls it PreCog.

Personally I have no desire to go back to gated manuals and clutch pedals, I'd prefer a DCT automatic that I can paddle shift when desired. I can understand some people want to cling to the old school stuff and sing it's praises, I prefer to embrace the advances in technology. Neither them nor I are typical of the vast majority of car buyers who I suspect don't even want to think about shifting at all.

RE: I don' like 'em
By macca007 on 8/2/2012 3:44:19 AM , Rating: 2
Rated you up, Excellent post and I learnt a little something about modern automatics!
Often wondered how they compare to manuals as I currently have a six speed manual V8 and am sick of fixing the clutch and rough gear changes,Wanting a new car with auto or sequential shifting or whatever they call it.I keep telling the younger guys at work that modern autos now are pretty damn good and just as quick to the average joe but they never believe me,I don't understand the tech side so I can never back up my side of the argument,This post of yours will help. ;)
Thank you

By sigmatau on 8/1/2012 9:49:39 PM , Rating: 2
Car and driver has been talking about saving the manuals as they are getting more and more rare.

I say on this site we make a "save the monitors" motto. Get rid of all that super crap 720p monitors on laptops.

Get real
By Visual on 8/2/2012 8:13:03 AM , Rating: 2
I hope they go with a real CVT design with essentially infinite gears, and put an end to this ridiculous one-upping each other some time before we get to 42 gears :p

9 speeds seems like overkill
By PaFromFL on 8/2/2012 8:53:58 AM , Rating: 2
"Bloomberg reports that the nine-speed transmission Chrysler is developing could boost fuel economy of certain models by as much as 16%. Chrysler has already scored a 15% boost in the highway fuel economy of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger by adding an eight-speed automatic transmission."

You get a big economy boost when going from 4-speeds, but I doubt there is much of a boost when going from the now common 6-speed transmissions. With the broad torque curves of the increasingly popular turbo-charged (and diesel) engines, more gears help acceleration performance, but probably don't improve efficiency much. The easier way to improve efficiency is to switch to a dual clutch design and tweak the control software.

extra shifts
By Motoman on 8/1/2012 12:15:32 PM , Rating: 1 question is, with 9 gears, how many more shifts per distance traveled are these transmissions going to be having to perform?

Sounds like extra wear and tear and more stuff to go wrong to me...aside from possibly driving you nuts with constant upshifts and downshifts.

By greggles on 8/1/12, Rating: -1
RE: Or....
By GreenEnvt on 8/1/2012 9:46:16 AM , Rating: 4
More fun on nice windy roads, and open driving sure. I loved when I had a manual and worked close to home, and love it on my motorcycle.

However for those of us who commute in stop/go traffic daily, I'll take an auto please.

RE: Or....
By MrBlastman on 8/1/12, Rating: -1
RE: Or....
By Motoman on 8/1/2012 12:13:39 PM , Rating: 1
Yup. For the past 20 years or so I've lived in major metropolitan areas and driven nothing but large pickup trucks with manual transmissions.

RE: Or....
By tayb on 8/1/2012 1:28:59 PM , Rating: 5
You call 'BS' on his opinion that he would rather drive in traffic with an automatic than a manual?

You can perfect it all you want but it is still an annoying pain in the ass to shift gears all the freaking time.

Manuals are on the way out in favor of automatics or manomatics.

RE: Or....
By MrBlastman on 8/1/12, Rating: -1
RE: Or....
By Labotomizer on 8/1/2012 2:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I am lazy. And that's a pretty good reason for wanting an easier drive to work. I can easily afford the difference in gas that I would have saved with a manual transmission. It's well worth it when it can take 20 minutes to get to work on a good day, 1.5 hours on a bad day.

As an aside, I gave up the manual when I had to make the evacuation during the Houston Hurricane Rita scare. Houston to Dallas is, normally, a 4 hour drive. It took 27 hours that day. You have no idea how painful it was to have a manual for that trip. Stop and go traffic, with a max speed of about 5 mph, for almost 24 hours is pretty much how I imagine hell.

RE: Or....
By Reclaimer77 on 8/1/12, Rating: 0
RE: Or....
By Labotomizer on 8/1/2012 3:28:04 PM , Rating: 3
haha Of course it is, that was the point. The real argument was that I like being lazy. Which is a perfectly sound argument that I am far too lazy to expand.

RE: Or....
By mindless1 on 8/2/2012 2:40:44 AM , Rating: 1
That's ridiculous. It's not being lazy to let a machine do the work for you. I suppose those that aren't lazy are just jogging to work eh? Or at least get rid of your power steering too?

A manual transmission makes no sense whatsoever except for two situations:

Vehicles that have to haul heavy loads, in which case a sacrifice is made to go with the manual.

Idiots that think they are boy racers on public roads and need to feel more in control of their car by doing the shifting themselves.

Nothing else is good about manual transmissions except the lower cost.

RE: Or....
By Spuke on 8/2/2012 5:55:04 PM , Rating: 1
Idiots that think they are boy racers on public roads and need to feel more in control of their car by doing the shifting themselves.
So all of us manual drivers are just idiots. Don't you think that's just a little extreme? I'm not in the habit of calling people idiots because they prefer to do something I don't. We all have our differences and I'm perfectly fine with that. What's your problem?

RE: Or....
By mindless1 on 8/2/2012 8:17:10 PM , Rating: 3
If you had the choice of an auto and went with a manual for a passenger vehicle on public roads other than to save money or haul loads, yes.

How are you perfectly fine with our differences if I prefer to call something idiotic and you don't? Seems like a double standard to me. To withhold speech in order to create the illusion of a touchy-feely world has its downsides. If you own a manual because it makes you feel like a boy racer, you might as well know that some people out there think that's idiotic.

Perhaps you have another reason for owning one, I meant only what I wrote and used a non-slang word with a proper definition in any dictionary. Shall I no longer have thoughts that disagree or is it that I'm not allowed to express them if they differ from yours?

RE: Or....
By Reclaimer77 on 8/1/12, Rating: -1
RE: Or....
By GotThumbs on 8/1/2012 3:49:15 PM , Rating: 2
Have you even been to Europe? It's much harder to find/rent an automatic there. Most Europeans drive, have manual transmissions due to reliability and fuel efficiency. I have only owned vehicles with manual transmissions. I feel they are lower maintenance, more efficient, and less prone to mechanical issues....especially if the driver doesn't hammer the clutch and transmission. Most of my family drives automatics and that's OK too. My brother had to have his camaro serviced twice for a bad auto-transmission. Very expensive item to have serviced.

I wouldn't say never to an automatic, but I'm more than fine with my 3 vehicles being manuals and towing through the gears is always a blast.

fyi. I regularly get 25-26 mpg in my 5-speed 1 ton Dodge Ram diesel.

RE: Or....
By sigmatau on 8/1/2012 9:31:05 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct, but car manufacturers have stepped up their game.

Nissan introduced their first CVT in the 2003 Nissan Murano. This was their first use of this transmission (which kinda sucks btw). Do you know what is the warranty on this transmission? 120,000 miles in the US. Talk about reliability.

My next car will have an auto with a lifetime warranty on it and other engine parts. Not sure why people still buy cars with 36,000 miles warranty. Oh, and its not a Huyndai/Kia.

RE: Or....
By macca007 on 8/2/2012 4:08:16 AM , Rating: 2
Definitely have to disagree there about lower maintenance in manuals, Maybe I am a poor driver but 3 clutches later and about $6k speaks for itself. Only takes one bad nights sleep, Running late to work still half asleep so don't quite get that smooth gear change then accidently CRUUUUUUNCH those gears and there goes 1 months wages in repairs :(
This will be my last manual for sure, I see then fading away into oblivion each new car generation that comes along.
Even cheap cars now are getting 5 or 6 speed autos in them,Don't save any money by buying a manual version of the car these days, With some brands the auto and manual are even the same price. I think it will get to a point where it(manuals) will only be available on sports cars maybe its already starting to happen?
I guess manuals will always seem to appeal to young people and will still be needed for those who need to tow but majority of people stuck in peak hour traffic will want an auto as roads get even more crowded as years go on.

RE: Or....
By Spuke on 8/2/2012 5:56:00 PM , Rating: 2
$6k for three clutch jobs? What car are you driving?

RE: Or....
By macca007 on 8/7/2012 2:46:47 AM , Rating: 2
Only a Holden Commodore SS, No BMW that's for sure :)
I know I get ripped off at the dealer, But I don't have any mechanic to go to.

RE: Or....
By Brandon Hill on 8/1/2012 9:56:08 AM , Rating: 5
Nowadays, most automatic transmissions are more fuel efficient than the manual version.

On top of that, manuals transmissions are quickly disappearing as options altogether.

RE: Or....
By MadMan007 on 8/1/2012 10:11:27 AM , Rating: 2
I see this in EPA ratings all the time, although it's usually close within a few MPG. I wonder how much of that is up to auto transmissions being tuned for the test? I know there are other efficiency improvements but it's also easy to make them look good for a set test with known parameters.

Side note - I get 35+ MPG combined in my 5-speed manual transmission Mazda 3 (2011 2.0L) which is 6 MPG above the EPA combined rating and 3 MG above the highway rating.

RE: Or....
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2012 11:08:54 AM , Rating: 1
The one thing these "mega" auto transmissions won't be efficient at are repair bills. The more parts they put in them, the more expensive and time-consuming they are to fix.

RE: Or....
By Brandon Hill on 8/1/2012 11:16:35 AM , Rating: 2
Well, that could be said for any new "product" purchased today from TVs to washing machines to refrigerators.

New automobiles are loaded with advanced engines, electronics, etc. that are just waiting to empty your wallet in the event of a failure (after the warranty period).

RE: Or....
By MrBlastman on 8/1/2012 11:37:13 AM , Rating: 1
Advanced shouldn't always equal "more complicated," though.

There is a certain elegance in mechanical design that rests in simplicity of operation and repetitive action. The more factors you add into the system, the greater the potential for failure and it isn't a linear relationship.

Anyone can design something complicated. However, it takes a true genius to design something to do a complicated task with an utterly simple design and mechanics--and in less steps.

I know American cars have made huge improvements in the last decade but I still worry about the tainted past that they have when it comes to upping the ante. This holds especially true for a company like Chrysler which... is affiliated with Fiat, who doesn't have that great of a reputation.

RE: Or....
By Spuke on 8/2/2012 6:27:37 PM , Rating: 2
Advanced shouldn't always equal "more complicated," though.
And sometimes things are just complicated and that's the way it is. And then sometimes things just SEEM complicated because we don't understand it. DCTs, for example, take existing technology, manual transmissions, and adds a layer of electronics to it. Quite frankly it's still the gearbox, clutch, TO we all know and love with a more precise shifting and clutching algorithm added to it. A DCT is still a mostly mechanical device. I deal with things like this daily with people (I'm in IT). Adding a simple computer (and transmission computers are simple) does not complexity make. Adding another set of gears in a conventional torque converter automatic does not complexity make. You know what's complex? The theories centering around time and space.

RE: Or....
By sigmatau on 8/1/2012 9:34:02 PM , Rating: 2
Or, Or just get a car with a nonstupid 36,000 mile warranty. How are they still in business? My local GM, Toyota, Scion, and maybe others offer lifetime mechanical warranties (nationwide too btw!)

RE: Or....
By Tabinium on 8/1/2012 11:44:10 AM , Rating: 2
I've noticed that the effective final drive ratio (which is the top gear, 5th or 6th, times the final drive) of the manual transmissions in new Ford Focus (5 gears) and Mazda 3 (6 gears) is actually higher than that of the autos. This is why there are more examples nowadays of autos besting manuals in highway mileage.
Automatics, however, can be more efficient in the city, because a computer and torque converter are simply more consistent than a human.

RE: Or....
By fishman on 8/1/2012 12:00:05 PM , Rating: 2
It's the way the EPA tests are run. The manual transmissions are shifted at specified engine RPMS and car speeds.

RE: Or....
By Philippine Mango on 8/1/2012 12:21:51 PM , Rating: 2
Aside from automated manual transmissions, automatics are still less efficient than manual transmissions. The reason you see the same or slightly worse fuel economy on the manual transmission version of a car nowadays is entirely due to the gear ratios chosen for the stick shift versions. People today who buy manuals want a sporty car and so to make it like that, they've made the car more easily rev which consequently hurts fuel economy. Even so, that not withstanding, because one has total control over the shifting patterns, a short geared (lots of revs) manual can still beat an automatic in fuel economy especially if you short shift or even skip shift gears.

RE: Or....
By sigmatau on 8/1/2012 9:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
I understand what you are saying but when people see 34mpg vs 29mpg highway they will crap on a manual.

RE: Or....
By FITCamaro on 8/1/2012 1:17:36 PM , Rating: 1
If an automatic is more fuel efficient than a manual, its because they gave the auto better gear ratios. With the same engine and final drive ratio, a manual will always be a little better than an auto because of it being around 100 pounds lighter.

RE: Or....
By Rukkian on 8/1/2012 1:34:39 PM , Rating: 2
So how would somebody go about buying a manual and getting the better gear ratios?

The point is that for most people, the auto will be basically equivalent to a manual (in some cases much better). The argument that they are alot better is not true anymore except in extreme cases.

RE: Or....
By conquistadorst on 8/1/2012 1:53:05 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but I'd really like to call BS on that. This only started happening once the EPA "updated" the way the tests were conducted to better reflect driving realities. So I wonder if this "reality" reflects common poor driving habits such as slamming the gas as soon as the light turns green.

I would like to see some actual fuel efficiency-maximums studies done to see which transmission-type can go further, throwing aside realities of poor driving habits and just pushing the machines themselves to the max.

The only thing I can say for certain is that the EPA rates my 2001 vehicle at 27/33MPG but I regularly obtain 38-40mpg even with a 50/50 highway/city mileage mixture.

RE: Or....
By sigmatau on 8/1/2012 9:38:49 PM , Rating: 2
The EPA test for a 2001 car was PURE BS. If that car was retested using the new EPA test (that came out aroune 2005), it would get an even worse score.

You must drive like an old fart. :}

RE: Or....
By YashBudini on 8/1/2012 7:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
On top of that, manuals transmissions are quickly disappearing as options altogether

Ah, but a niche market also allows for higher pricing. Witness the Acura TL, where the only way to get a 6 speed manual is to buy a top of the line AWD model with the Tech Package.

To buy a manual for better mileage started becoming a moot point once lock-up torque converters became popular.

As for options disappearing, take a look at how many cars offer any interior colors options. That's less about demand than it is about streamlining assembly lines.

RE: Or....
By sigmatau on 8/1/2012 9:43:32 PM , Rating: 2
Bingo! A car manufacturer loses money offering a manual on a mainstream car as it makes them have to tool two different assembly lines for a car that is not wanted by 93.5% of the population (US). Some car manufacturers are offering an auto at the same price as a manual. Look at the Ford Fusion.

RE: Or....
By YashBudini on 8/1/2012 10:50:42 PM , Rating: 2
Decades ago economy cars were routinely slow performers and automatics made them total dogs. Yeah they were a tad quicker with stick, but often very marginally.

These comments don't include the GM 2 speed Powerglide, which managed to make V8s behave like 6 cylinders.

RE: Or....
By theapparition on 8/1/2012 9:58:11 AM , Rating: 4
I'm a big fan of manual transmissions.

Less complicated? Yes
Cheaper? Yes
Lighter? Yes
More fun? Definitely (although most people can't drive an auto).

But more fuel efficient? No, not by a long shot anymore. That was true with old style mechanical transmissions. But modern electronically controlled ones do a much better job than any person can.

RE: Or....
By sprockkets on 8/1/2012 10:14:37 AM , Rating: 1
And that's the problem. I have a feeling 9 speed autos will be as fun to drive as a CVT transmission. So what if it saves fuel? These stupid new cars upshift so fast you barely get any good acceleration out of them.

RE: Or....
By michael2k on 8/1/2012 10:20:36 AM , Rating: 2
Saving fuel is the whole point of this exercise, sprockkets.

That's like saying, "So what if it moves forward? These cars move so much you barely get any good nap time out of them."

RE: Or....
By sprockkets on 8/1/2012 10:37:48 AM , Rating: 2
Let's look at it another way - todays a/c systems are around 1.5-2x times more efficent. They also break down 3x as much and the evaporator coils leak around 10x as much.

In other words, you save $30 a month. You also pay an thousands more in repairs over the life of the system as well vs an older system. Where did the EPA/GOV factor lost refrigerant and extra energy and money in repairs when mandating higher SEER ratings?

I don't want a 9 speed auto if all it does is crap up more in repairs vs. a measly 15% in fuel savings.

RE: Or....
By michael2k on 8/1/2012 12:37:27 PM , Rating: 2
That's not your original argument, to which I in good faith responded to.

If you're claiming "added complexity vs efficiency", then there are in fact other ways to increase efficiency, but I suspect you would respond in exactly the same way as your OP in which you complain about a lack of good acceleration.

RE: Or....
By Iaiken on 8/1/2012 10:21:39 AM , Rating: 2
You make the mistake of being an enthusiast and trying to speak for the 99% of people who view their automobile as an appliance. While I agree with you, the buying public at large disagrees with us.

RE: Or....
By sprockkets on 8/1/2012 10:32:07 AM , Rating: 2
I know, I know, the 99% of the population that is beyond retarded and uses apple products, also appliances.

RE: Or....
By Mathos on 8/1/2012 10:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
Hmmm From what I remember, from test driving a charger and avenger with the 6 speed CVT's in em, they weren't that bad. If you put the foot on the gas they'd go like a 4 or 5 speed. I haven't personally tested the newer 8 speed yet. But if memory serves, both the 8 and 9 are 4 gear sets with 2 shift elements per gear, at least on the 8, and they're timed aggressively on the lower gears.

You have to remember though, they haven't even added Direct injection or turbos yet to their newer engines. I say that because back in the day they use to put turbo's on the 4 cylinder Lebaron, friend of mine had one. I know they have the tech to do so, just don't know why they haven't put out the DI Twin turbo versions of their engines yet.

RE: Or....
By freedom4556 on 8/1/2012 12:51:59 PM , Rating: 2
You have to remember though, they haven't even added Direct injection or turbos yet to their newer engines. I say that because back in the day they use to put turbo's on the 4 cylinder Lebaron, friend of mine had one. I know they have the tech to do so, just don't know why they haven't put out the DI Twin turbo versions of their engines yet.

I know why, and the answer is two words: insurance and cost. In '93 they had a twin-turbo trans am prototype that was faster, lighter, more efficient, and more powerful than the LT1 V8 trans am from '92. Why didn't GM make it? Insurance for buyers of the car would've jumped significantly, there would've been the cost for retooling and the turbos are just plain less reliable vs not having turbos. That and a gas prices slump in the early 90s fueled the SUV craze, but that's something else... Also, look at the different versions of the Mitsu Evo. At a certain point, forced induction hurts efficiency rather than helping.

And btw, direct injection only buys a few percent increase in mpg in gas engines. It was great for diesels, but moving the injector into the cylinder instead of right outside in the intake port? Most domestics are just putting off the redesign cost for the V6/V8s.

RE: Or....
By theapparition on 8/1/2012 3:38:48 PM , Rating: 2
They never had a LT1 TransAm in 1992. It debuted in 1993.

DI also buys a lot more than a few percent. Even so, each addition of a few percent adds up. There are also a lot of other benefits that DI allows.

RE: Or....
By freedom4556 on 8/2/2012 4:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
They never had a LT1 TransAm in 1992. It debuted in 1993.

Ehh, off by a year. I only remembered that it was the LT1 because they called it out by name on the article I read.

DI also buys a lot more than a few percent.

Direct injection by itself is mainly good for reducing NOx emissions and improving power, to get noticeably better economy from DI it needs to be coupled with VVT, which most cars have by now, even the domestics. But your right, single digits add up.

RE: Or....
By Visual on 8/2/2012 8:17:44 AM , Rating: 2
A CVT can be fun too, it can easily have a mode that picks the optimal RPM for torque and acceleration instead of for fuel efficiency.

RE: Or....
By sigmatau on 8/1/2012 9:25:31 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry but they are not more fuel efficient. Not any more. Not even close on some new models.

When you can get 34mpg with an automatic on the highway vs 29 with a manual in the same exact car, it make the manual look terrible. Scion FR-S if you are wondering.

Many other new cars with automatics get 1-2 miles/gallon better than manuals. I can't belive it either but this is the future.

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