By on November 29, 2010

AutoWeek reports:

GM doesn’t use [Continuously Variable Transmissions] now. But they could be used on models such as the Chevrolet Spark, Aveo and Cruze in the next three years, said Mike Arcamone, CEO of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology.

GM will have to improve the mileage on these models by at least 10 percent by the next full-model change, said Sohn Dongyoun, vice president of engineering at GM’s global small- and minicar development team at GM Daewoo. CVTs offer an easy, quick fix, he said.
Nissan has (in my eyes) refined its CVT to the point where it can be downright eager in applications like the Juke, but GM’s track record with the the CVT is less well-proven. GM hasn’t offered the transmission since dropping it as an option from the Saturn Ion coupe and Vue and the Opel Astra in 1995. And Daewoo’s CVT would have to be incredibly good to erase fears left from the previous experience, in which GM paid Saturn owners over $100m in settlements for transmission failure. Sohn’s line about CVTs being a “easy, quick fix” should ring a few alarm bells somewhere in the RenCen.
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24 Comments on “GM Considering CVTs In Daewoo-Developed Cars...”

  • avatar

    1995, good year for Ions

  • avatar

    What’s funny is that GM sold their CVT to Chrysler, and it seems that the Caliber units don’t have the problems the Saturns did. I wonder what Chrysler changed besides adding fake shifts.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      Jatco, owned by Nissan and Mitsubishi, makes the Chrysler CVT. Chrysler uses their own unique electronics with these transmissions.

    • 0 avatar

      I once test-drove one of the Calibers (while waiting for an oil change). It had the highest power engine. If memory serves me right it was around 160 hp. It had way worse mileage than my Mazda 3, it drove less powerful than the Mazda, rpm were at 4000+ rpm almost all the time, it was noisy… Obviously the test drive over 10 miles didn’t reveal longevity of the CVT, but all other aspects seemed really badly executed. This was my only CVT experience, so i can’t say if that is an inherent problem, or a Chryco problem. But what I hear from the Nissan experience, it took them a long time to fix the reliability issues and no one else seems to be too eager to implement them.

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan owns Jatco. Jatco aquired Diamondmatic in 2002 which was owned my Mitsubishi. Nissan/Jatco have been supplying many companies (BMW, Volkswagon,Ford, Hyundai, Landrover, Chrysler, Jaguar, Renault, Subaru, etc. etc.) for several years.

      Currently Jatcos strongest CVTs are only used in Nissan vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mitsubishi/Hyundai sourced engine in the Caliber (2.4 liter form) is 173 hp @ 6,000 rpm and produces 164 lb ft @ 4,400 thru the Nissan sourced CVT.

  • avatar

    Just one small thing. I don’t think Opel ever offered a CVT transmission

  • avatar

    Jatco had loads of problems with Nissan CVTs and now offers extended warranties on them.  It seems the teething pains are solved.  Mine only has 20K on it, but others in our fleet have far more miles than that.  I wanted to dislike the CVT but I have to say it is a logical choice in a commuter car.  I thought all CVTs were Jatco-sourced.

  • avatar

    Does that belt actually need to get changed? Does the belt actually transmit all the power? This seems to be the weak link in the design and would explain why we see CVT in small cars only.
    from reading the article. I can’t really understand why they think people want to manually shift any type of automatic transmission (other than hill descent, winter.. but that can be done electronically). I once drove a Jetta AT a lot and the 5-AT had the option too… the thing is, one gets too lazy to shift when there is no clutch and only a button. I love MT, but in an AT car I wouldn’t want to shift. with the advent of full hybrids, manually shifting is over anyway. MT really served its purpose (and still does) because AT were (are) so inadequate.

  • avatar

    GM CVT?   It should be codenamed VEGA.

  • avatar

    The Caliber has about the highest reliability statistics of all the Chrysler cars. It’s average.  Nissan CVT transmissions in the Altima, Maxima and Murano have proven to be reasonably reliable even pumping upwards of 280 horsepower through them.  Furthermore, the transmission in the Altima is an important reason that it was recently able to best a 2011 Hyundai Sonata in a comparison test. Despite giving up about 24 horsepower and lacking injection, the Altima was virtually identical to the Sonata in acceleration and fuel economy.  The Altima is almost a second quicker 0-60 than the Ford Fusion six-speed auto which weighs almost the same and has a similarly powered engine.
    The Nissan transmission may be the exception that proves the rule.  Nissan programs virtual gear changes into its transmission to give the impression that you are changing or holding gears.   I rented a Nissan Altima S a couple years ago, and the 175 horsepower 4-cylinder felt more powerful than the numbers would suggest.
    My experience driving an early Ford Five Hundred with the CVT was different. That experience reminded me of what the cannibal said after eating the clown, “it tastes funny.”

    • 0 avatar

      “Nissan programs virtual gear changes into its transmission to give the impression that you are changing or holding gears.”

      Only in the faux-manual mode.  If you hold the gas pedal in one position in my Altima, it will start off at a slightly higher RPM below 10-20 MPH, then basically maintains the same RPM until you adjust the position of the gas pedal.  It’s very aggressive about engine braking going down hills (if your intent is to gain speed on the downhill grade, you can’t let your foot off the gas, whereas most cars would gain speed even without your foot on the gas).  Overall, it’s an enjoyable car to drive.

      Judging from my experience with the G6 that GM repurchased from me under the lemon law, GM needs to focus on getting their four-speed automatic transmissions to work reliably before they get kinky with a CVT.

    • 0 avatar

      How dare you point that out, Conslaw . It ruins the whole meme that Calibers [and Compasses and Patriots] are all junk. I guess somebody had to ruin the continued pile on.

      Segfault: sounds like you got a “bad one”. GM’s 4 speed auto has been one of their better attempts, one thing they actually have gotten “right” over the years. Of course one “right” thing and a good engine doesn’t make up for the criminal cost and corner cutting done over the past 4 decades…… You have my sympathy. Hope you have a new car that you really love.

    • 0 avatar

      I tried the Caliber when it started in Mexico, didn’t like it, as said by another poster, it revved up almost all time and was noisy.
      I know 2 ppl who has had problems (serious) with the CVT on their Calibers, on one of them the transmission was replaced twice under warranty, the problems were on both, overheating and entering in “Limp Mode”, I wonder is that could be due to the topography of our highways which have numerous changes in altitude, vs the straight and flat highways dominant on the US.
      I would wait to the third revision on such transsmisions from GM before buying a car equipped with one.

  • avatar

    Audi had a CVT in the A4 and IIRC, they had a big warranty issue and had to extend the warranty on these units.  The guys with these in the car loved them.  Some people got wierded out by the lack of shifts, so Audi added artificial ones.

    Ford on the 500 developed a CVT together with ZF … during development, there was a whine issue … IIRC this was during deceleration … that took quite a bit of effort to overcome.  Then the Company decided to drop it…

    I sure wish my little Smart car had come with a cvt instead of a Getrag 6-speed AMT box…

  • avatar

    I think CVT’s make a ton of sense when they’re built well. But I’ll never understand the the need/desire to give it artificial “shifts.”  That’s just stupid.

  • avatar

    talked to a person who used to own a Mini CVT, she had to sell the car real cheap, as the CVT packed in, Mini dealers only offer her a new tranny and no rebuilt avail. Thats very much the baulk of her car’s value. So she had to ditched the car real cheap!
    They use these CVT or belt drive on Ski doos. If too much horse power loading in her it may conk out much sooner.
    GM is trying to fly close to the sun again. After doing well in the IPO.

  • avatar

    The bugaboo with CVT’s is having highly evolved electronics, software and sensors that will not allow excessive belt slippage, and will do a perfect job of compensating for belt wear – it seems that (much to the pain of Nissan and their “early adopters”, that this has finally come to pass. Thus, I would not trust any other CVT (at least one that can handle high loads/power) unless it was licensed by Nissan. In the small-car arena, Subaru had their CVT “experience”, so their trannys might be suitable for lighter duty.

  • avatar

    Impressions of the CVT are positive, for the most part. In 2 years in an ’08 Maxima, city driving was a bit strange, where engine revs did not match actual speed.  Freeway driving is another story.  This is where the CVT shined. Effortless cruising and instant passing power. Need to overtake in the left lane?  Merely tap the accelerator and off you go.  No annoying lag to find the proper gear.  My concern was long term durability in the fabulous Nissan V6, as I understand CVT’s where primarily designed for smaller engines.

  • avatar

    My Prius uses an Electrically Controlled Variable Transmission (ECVT) that is different than a conventional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). There are no pulley and belt arrangements to wear out or need adjustment. The Prius uses a planetary gear system that couples the drive motor and engine resulting in a smooth power curve from full stop to full speed.

  • avatar

    It’s a clear choice for GM, chase Ford on quality and develop a good dual (dry) clutch gearbox, or join the collective race to the cheap feeling bottom by pursuing CVTs. Either route will get them those extra percentage points, but only one is guaranteed to upset a percentage of drivers concerned about driving feel. Have any of you compared CVT cars to those with modern AT’s (not an old Subaru or Honda 4speed) recently? It’s not a good look, especially over $30k.
    And yes, the Maxima is nice, but it would be a lot nicer to drive with a decent tranny. Especially in the city or on loose surfaces. If it wasn’t for that detail I would easily hold it up as best in class (the CC’s DSG on the other hand is just a bit too harsh, but still way better than the Nissan CVT, and makes it, with less power, way better to drive). Shame.

  • avatar

    I think the CVT would be good in small cars.  I believe the problem with the old CVTs was that the engine it was mated to was rated too high for tq for the CVT.  I think the CVT would have been fine with a smaller engine.  Either way, I think this would be ok for smaller cars if it can be proven to be reliable.  If not, don’t put them in there.

  • avatar

    The tranny on the ancient reel mower with the 3.5 Briggs and Stratton motorvation functioned finely.
    Increase engine rpm and engagement of the drive wheels ensued.
    Increase engine rpm and the auto-device embraced the drive belt even more passionately resulting in the units’ max speed over the little blades of screaming grass as their chlorophyll-laden heads were lopped off.
    Suburbia was happy and upper working-poor-class residents in their small bungalow-style cookie-cutter tract homes selling new for 14K bucks back in the 1960s were sated as their tidal wave of vile spawn Baby Boom progeny overfilled the local schools and the Commies were kept off the shores of California.
    If that tranny in all its functional magnificence operated with such minimal muss and fuss why can’t the Chinese create and offer a similar unit for their auto/truck offerings?
    The USA consumers expect better from their manufacturing masters.

    • 0 avatar

      You, Sir, are the literary equivalent of Salvador Dali :-)

      However, a CVT is a bit more evolved than the centrifugal clutch that motivated the fescue-decapitating mechanical monster.

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