By on August 22, 2016

2015 Honda Fit EX 6MT Front, Image: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Apparently, the 10-speed automatic transmission co-developed by Ford and General Motors doesn’t impress Honda, because it wants a gearbox with more cogs.

The Japanese automaker recently filed a patent for an 11-speed, triple-clutch transmission, AutoGuide reports.

Filed with the Japan Patent Office, the document describes a transmission that decreases the torque loss between shifts that is common with dual-clutch transmissions. The solution? Adding a third clutch.

The design, credited to inventor Izumi Masao, aims to increase the speed of each gear shift while reducing fuel consumption. While the layout of the future gearbox isn’t exactly clear (the patent can no longer be found on the patent office’s website), and there’s no mention of applications, we’re left to assume that the 11-speed unit would find a home in a high-mileage model or a gas hog.

A transmission this technologically complex would likely carry a hefty price tag compared to other options. That increases the odds that, if built, it would be offered in a mass-market model, rather than a niche vehicle.

[Image: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars]

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44 Comments on “Honda Files Transmission Patent, Cranks it to ’11’ (Speeds)...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Jeez, just make it a CVT already.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    To what end and how is this better than the CVTs Honda has been moving toward? The well-behaved and superbly programmed 8 speed in the BMW 328 I tried still felt quite busy moving up through so many gears under normal acceleration. What will 11 speeds be like, even if implemented well? I’d rather have a CVT than a transmission that feels like a distant impact wrench after every stoplight.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    STOP THE INSANITY!

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Only Japanese could make all those teeny, tiny gears. Kawaii!

  • avatar
    jmo

    As to why not a CVT? My understanding is that CVTs don’t deal with with a lot of torque. A few years ago the limit was something like 250 lb/ft.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    RIP Ronnie’s Fit with hand-painted scroll detailing!

  • avatar
    badreligion702

    8 gears seems to be the sweet spot for most forward gears needed in a passenger vehicle.

  • avatar
    2manycars

    This seems ridicible – what possible benefit to the consumer can this be? Maybe 1/10 additional mile per gallon? How much will it cost to repair this thing when it fails?

    I really don’t see any need for more than 3 or 4 speeds in an automatic transmission. (Heck, I’ve driven cars with 2-speed automatics that were just fine.) You have your starting gear, intermediate/passing gear, cruising gear, and maybe an overdrive gear for high-speed freeway driving. That’s certainly all I’d need in any car.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      It isn’t about the consumer. Just like with all automatics with more than 6 gears, it’s about meeting CAFE instead of durability, cost/benefit analysis, or driving quality.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Is that why my parent’s 2012 Taurus with a 6 speed and a 263 hp engine in a full-size car gets about the same mileage as my 1995 Taurus with a 4 speed and 140 hp in a far smaller and lighter car?

      New stuff sucks! Get off my lawn!

  • avatar
    shaker

    Guy: HOW DO THEY DO IT?

    Dumber Guy: Two 5 1/2 speed transmissions connected together?

  • avatar

    4-5 speeds is just about right, otherwise the transmissions to me feel busy and slippy. the 3 speed in my ’77 is one gear short of excellent to match the torque of the V8 in it (needs OD so I can gear the rear axle up) and my 04 Rendezvous needs another gear or two to eliminate the huge gap between first and second and second and third as the little 3.4 just is overmatched in a 4300 pound CUV.

    The 4 speed in my 95 Explorer was geared perfectly, I never had an issue with its gearing, mostly with its lack of power from the 160hp six.

  • avatar
    mtmmo

    Based on my experience with my ’15 TLX V6 with 9 speed auto I would NEVER lease or buy a first year Acura (or Honda) especially one with a new transmission design. The current 9 speed auto is simply awful as it bucks and bangs through the gears 90% of the time. I couldn’t imagine a newly designed Honda transmission with more gears and clutches. Acura already ranks below Buick, Chevy, and GMC on JD Power’s quality survey. Maybe they’re shooting for Jeep and Fiat quality territory.

    • 0 avatar
      crtfour

      Agreed. My mother has a 2016 Pilot with the 9 speed and it’s not a very pleasant drive until it reaches 9th gear and stays there.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I’m perfectly happy with the one-speed in my EV. Never a problem finding the right gear.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Strange you should mention that – the 9 speed transmission in the new MDX is the same as the 9 speed in the Jeep Cherokee…. The much maligned ZF monster. Id avoid it like the plague until the issues are ironed out.

      And I dont trust a “sealed” transmission, ever. There needs to be both a dipstick and an ability to change transmission fluid in order to prolong the life of the transmission. The ZF unit possesses neither, and is in fact sealed.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        There is a dipstick that is a special service tool.
        You remove a plug in the trans housing and stick it in.
        I assume there’s a drain plug somewhere too.
        http://hudsonhawk.net/th/fluidlevel.pdf

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The best thing you can say about this new 11-speed transmission is that it isn’t a ZF.

        • 0 avatar
          Hemi

          I thought it was only the Jeep Cherokee 9speed ZF that was plagued? Are there others?

          The 8 speed ZF my car has is fast and crisp. No hunting and no slop. Downshift to first used to be clunky but is way better after a reflash. Leaps and bounds better than the NAG1 I previously had on other LX cars. Even though I was one of the rare NAG1 fans.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Here’s a general thought, as the auto trannies age and gears may stick a little do we have many multiples of thumps to look forward too every day instead of a few on a commute?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Ahh, the 1-speed EV makes more sense every day!

    It was hard to go back to an automatic (even a good 5-speed auto) after returning the Leaf.

    Besides their arrogant dealers and uglier-by-the-year looks, now Honda has given me yet another reason not to buy their product.

  • avatar
    masterofnone

    11 speeds, 3 clutches. That shiny building in your rear-view mirror when this claptrap BS explodes in failure is the dealership where you bought it. It’s one thing to not prefer the feeling of CVTs, especially in lower displacement engine situations, but this is a bit much.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Well, that’s good news.

      Since you and many others have already driven and durability tested this trans and judged it to be unreliable and “busy”, it should save Honda a lot of effort, since they won’t have to waste time/money testing it themselves.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    We are fast approaching the point where hybrids are the cheap sensible option. No way this transmission + a DI DOHC i-VTEC turbo 4 cost (or weigh) less than the mild hybrid tech that could do the job with the trusty old J series V6. This is getting ridiculous.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Having known people with Honda’s with the V6’s and Honda automatic’s i hate to see this transmission in service a few years down the road. I think most people agree Honda is not great with some of their transmissions. This weekend my wife and i went to the local Dodge/Jeep dealer to Test a Jeep Renegade as i was reading how bad their 9 speed ZF transmission was. I also wanted to get the latest CarFax for my car that was T-boned this year by an old lady. Well driving a new 2016 Renegade was quite a shock It seems they installed a new program and the car was a pleasure to drive. I could even say i liked the car, very well built. Well back in the show room we got the BS treatment and my car was listed on the CarFax but only as hitting a Fence. Trading a car in in New York State even with a replaced bumper could cost you a few thousand dollars. I told them in error i hit a PVC fence and used my insurance to pay for the repair on the front bumper and they only took $500.00 off my trade in. (The old ladys insurance paid $9,700.00 to repair my car but the job was perfect). We told the dealer we would sleep on it and let him know. My wide grabbed the CarFax report when the salesman was gone for a few minutes. Good way to kill a hot afternoon.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Gee, this makes me feel old. I remember when Honda offered an optional 2-speed semi-automatic in their Civics and Accords (up until about the 1980 model year when they came out with a 3-speed fully automatic transmission).

    • 0 avatar
      gasser

      I remember it well. My 1980 Accord sedan was proudly presented to my by the dealer as “fully automatic, (not requiring any shifts to high-auto).
      It lasted almost 50,000 miles, until reverse gear died.
      The autos on my 2003 and 2005 were OK. They shifted well and the 2005 only ate one relay at about 15,000 miles.
      I am willing to give Honda a chance, but I’m not willing to buy an 11 speed auto the first 2 years it’s out.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    Yes, because the real problems with the transmissions in the TLX are that they didn’t have enough clutches or enough gears…

    Oddly enough, the only Honda transmission I haven’t hated is the CVT. The conventional automatic in the Accord V6 might be okay and maybe the old 5-speed manuals drove really did drive like they were made out of unobtanium and unicorn farts when they were new, but I’ve even grown to dislike their six speeds with the stupidly light clutch.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    If they’d just give the fit a seventh gear, that would be sweet and help the gas mileage too. It looks bad for the manual when the CVT gets 3 more mpg on highway.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    This reminds of the razor blade wars. Last time I checked, they are up to 6 blades! I like 2 or 3 blades. Purists go for the single blade safety razor.

    Whether blades or transmissions, more does not mean better. But companies do it anyway.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    “A transmission this technologically complex would likely carry a hefty price tag compared to other options. That increases the odds that, if built, it would be offered in a mass-market model, rather than a niche vehicle.”

    Wait a minute. The author is saying that because this transmission is likely to be very expensive to manufacture, it is likely to be used in high volume mass market cars? That makes no sense.

  • avatar
    rtr

    I had an Audi A4 with the ZF 8 speed and thought the transmission was brilliant and many reviewers feel the same. Programming makes a huge difference and it seems that Audi and others got it right. Some not so much.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …f*ck everything, we’re doing five blades!..

  • avatar
    cartunez

    Lexus has been using an 8 speed tranny for years and its smooth and reliable.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    11 speeds? From Honda? The company who struggles to make a decent V6/automatic combination?

    The transmission in our ’14 Odyssey is far from my favorite and it might determine whether we get another when the lease expires in May. It’s getting very abrupt on the 1-2 shift, especially at anything under part throttle and rather unresponsive in general. I know in Tim Cains last write-up, he shares many of the same gripes I have with the Odysseys six speed. It just always lags behind or you really must prod it to make it downshift. And Hondas grade logic is some of the dumbest I’ve ever encountered. I’m not new to the brand either. Myself or a family member have owned multiple Hondas over the past 30 years and grade logic has never been a strong suit.

    Since the Maintenance Minder(TM) just called for an ATF change, I’m hoping that helps smooth it out. But the programming has never been a favorite of mine and no manual control except the D4 button is annoying.

    When I drive the Honda, it reminds me of how awful our new multi-speed world can be. When I drive my 08 Mazda 5, it shows me how good a basic 5 speed automatic can be. Even my last experience with a 15 Charger with the V6/8spd was positive for 700 miles of mixed driving. But excuse me for being skeptical of any Honda transmission. To be fair, one of the best cars we’ve had was an 06 Accord 2.4 and the 5 speed automatic.

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