I’m guessing plenty of CarGurus readers know much more about semi trucks than I do, but when I read that Hyundai plans to release a 10-speed transmission for its luxury cars in 2014, I wondered how that compared with the number of gears in the big rigs.
Some quick research told me that, in fact, the most common number of gears in an 18-wheeler is 10.
Do our luxury cars really need the same number of gears as semi trucks?
I don’t think so. But, with Lexus and others using 8-speed trannies, it only makes sense that an automaker wants to one-up (or, in this case, two-up) them. Ford and Chevy engage in fierce horsepower wars, and now it looks like the transmission wars are upon us. How incredibly…dorky.
Granted, semi trucks use manual double-clutch gearboxes, while the 8- and 10-speed boxes used in cars are of the automatic variety. Still, though, it seems like tranny overkill. Will a tenth speed really offer better fuel economy at 70 mph than an eighth speed? How fast would a car have to go before a shift down into tenth would be needed? I mean, seriously, the Bugatti Veyron, the fastest car in the world, does just fine with a 7-speed box.
Hyundai might be better off fine-tuning its existing transmissions to shift more precisely before upping the number of gears it uses. Or, at this point, why not just go the CVT route and have an “infinite” number of gears available?
If there’s an engineer out there (I know we have a few!) who might be able to explain how a 10-speed would be any more efficient than a 6-, 7- or 8-speed, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts. Otherwise I think announcing a 10-speed is mostly for show and a way to out-market the competition.
It’s no secret that Hyundai wants to out-Lexus Lexus, and one way to do that is by offering a “bigger and better” transmission than the Japanese automaker.
I happen to believe that bicycles and semi trucks should be the only things with 10 speeds or more. Do you?