A Corvette With A CVT? Anything Is Possible!

rev

Photo: Digital Corvettes

Who doesn’t love the feel of the shift? The power that comes with pressing the clutch, manually engaging the gears, and revving the RPM at will, is still part of the thrill.

Lately, much has been said about the fuel economy and improved performance of automatic transmission-equipped Corvettes. Automatic transmissions nowadays are undoubtedly a monstrosity of integrated engineering and technology.

2004 Saturn Vue CVT

2004 Saturn Vue CVT

In addition to highly computerized automatic transmissions, more and more manufacturers, such as Audi, Honda, Nissan, Ford, and GM are experimenting to integrate CVTs into their drivetrains.

So, we couldn’t help but wonder, what if a Corvette was equipped with a CVT? Or better yet, what could a CVT do for Corvette?

A little review…

As we know, the function of a transmission is to change the speed ratio between the engine and the wheels.

Imagine driving a car with only one gear. If a car only had first gear, it would be easy to take off, but it would not be possible to travel at high speeds. Now imagine trying to take off from a stop light in fourth gear. Get the picture?

A transmission, manual or automatic, uses gears  – from low to high and high to low – to transfer the engine’s power ratio to the wheels allowing the vehicle to achieve all desired speeds while maintaining correct engine RPM.

What is a CVT?

05A4CabrioletCVT__mid

Pulley-Based CVT Transmission-Photo: cars.about

Believe it or not, the CVT, which stands for “Continuously Variable Transmission,” was conceived by Leonardo Da Vinci more than 500 years ago. Unlike the type of transmission (automatic or manual) that we are accustomed to, the CVT transmission does not shift as we know it.

An elegant design indeed, instead of using gears to create the different driving ratios, the CVT is driven by a heavy-duty chain riding on a ribbed pulley system. Hydraulic actuators allow the range of ratios to be varied infinitely between the highest and lowest gears with no shifts. The operation is invisible to the driver, and you will find yourself driving a “shiftless” vehicle.

PulleybasedThere are three different types of CVTs: Pulley-Based, Toroidal, and Hydrostatic. Instead of a complicated array of gears, clutches, and governing devices, the pulley-based CVT uses only three basic components: a heavy-duty metal belt, a variable input driving pulley, and an output-driven pulley.

metal belt

Photo: Howstuffworks

The simplicity of the pulley-based CVT makes it an ideal transmission, but CVTs have also experienced their fair share of pros and cons.

In previous applications, CVTs relied on high-density rubber belts that stretched and slipped, thus reducing efficiency and durability.

New materials, however, have made CVTs more reliable and efficient. One of the most significant developments was the design of metal belts to connect the pulleys.

The flexible metal belts are made of thin bands of steel that hold together bow-tie shaped metal links. Metal belts do not slip, are highly durable, can handle more torque, and are quieter than rubber belts.

The Corvette 8L90 8-Speed Transmission

As we featured in our article “First Look: 2015 Corvette 8-Speed Automatic and Supercharged LT4 V8,” an 8-speed transmission may have sounded like a bit too much, but first gear in the 8L90 is a 4.56 ratio as opposed to a 4.03. The closer steps between ratios result in improved performance and better fuel economy.

8l90

Corvette 8L90 8-Speed Transmission-Photo: Corvetteblogger

Chevrolet claims 29 mpg highway and 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. The 8L90 features a 7.0 ratio stretch between first and eighth gear, managed by an external controller with incredible processing speed.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

The impressive 8-speed fits in the same space as the previous 6-speed, weighs eight pounds less, and can handle up to 650 lb-ft. torque.

What if…

If the purpose is to improve performance and fuel economy with closer step ratios, then, what if those ratios are infinitely varied without steps. That is yet to be seen coupled with a supercharged 6.2L V8 engine.

How much are those variable ratios willing to output? And, how much more torque is a CVT capable of handling? As it stands, it is no longer a question of whether a Corvette can have a CVT, but whether a CVT can handle a Corvette.

At the time of press, we have not heard of GM planning to build a Corvette with a CVT drivetrain. According to Greencarreports.com, GM’s new CVT is likely to appear in some “high-volume” models by 2019.

But, what if Corvette was to appear on the list of vehicles phased for a CVT? How would you feel about it? Are you still a die-hard, knuckle-busting stick shift ‘Vette driver, or can you see yourself as a cool and “chill” shiftless cruiser in a CVT Corvette?

cvt

GM CVT – Photo: Greencarreports

About the author

Luz Boyer

Luz was born in Panama City, Panama. Upon arriving in the U.S., she discovered a passion for cars and pursued a career as an Automotive Technician. She was a GM technician for eight years before she started teaching automotive technology, is a Bureau of Auto Repair Certified Smog Instructor, and a true Corvette enthusiast.
Read My Articles

Late Model LS Power in your inbox.

Build your own custom newsletter with the content you love from LSX Magazine, directly to your inbox, absolutely FREE!

Free WordPress Themes
LSX Magazine NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

We'll send you the most interesting LSX Magazine articles, news, car features, and videos every week.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

LSX Magazine NEWSLETTER - SIGN UP FREE!

We will safeguard your e-mail and only send content you request.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...



Classic Chevy Magazine

Drag Racing

Engine Tech

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Subscribe to more FREE Online Magazines!

We think you might like...

  • Classic Chevy Magazine
  • Drag Racing
  • Engine Tech

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

LSX Magazine - The Late Model GM Magazine for Camaro

Thank you for your subscription.

Thank you for your subscription.

Loading