By on May 8, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas, Image: Volkswagen

Three years ago, Volkswagen Group teased attendees at the Vienna Motor Symposium with juicy details of a transmission designed to take fuel efficiency to new heights among the automaker’s higher-torque models. A 10-speed dual-clutch transmission was in the works, it announced, promising mondo improvements in efficiency.

Between then and now, VW changed its mind. As it pursues a strategy of electric vehicles, wide-ranging productivity gains and, ironically, utility vehicles that could make use of it, the 10-speed has vanished from VW’s development portfolio.

The sole example of the multi-cog DCT? Destroyed, according to VW’s powertrain chief.

“Two months ago, I had the prototype crushed,” Friedrich Eichler told Automotive News at this year’s Vienna Motor Symposium.

At the time of its announcement, VW’s 10-speed was poised to become the world’s first automatic with a two-digit gear tally. Former development chief Hans-Jakob Neusser, who was later indicted by U.S. authorities for his alleged role in the diesel emissions scandal, claimed the new tranny would find a home in premium VW and Audi models. As a replacement for the company’s six-speed DCT, the new unit was said to be capable of handling up to 369 lb-ft of torque.

Ford and General Motors ultimately took the 10-speed crown for their jointly developed automatic transmission.

Why the change of heart? VW has moved beyond the “bigger is better” approach it took in the past, Eichler said. While he didn’t go into details, VW’s post-diesel scandal streamlining has seen the automaker’s focus on global sales replaced by an urgent need for profitability. Part of the cost-cutting includes reducing complexity in vehicle development and paring back on material costs — hardly a nurturing environment for the development of a big-ticket transmission.

Despite the sea-change at VW, the company’s powertrain boss isn’t ruling out the transmission’s return. “Of course, I saved all the data,” Eichler said.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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12 Comments on “Volkswagen Literally Crushes Its 10-speed Dual-Clutch Dreams...”


  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Of course, VW also has no money to spend on new transmissions, platforms, etc. Whatever was already well into development before 2016 is all they’ll have for a decade.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “The sole example of the multi-cog DCT? Destroyed, according to VW’s powertrain chief.”

    It has been CRUSHED, Mr. Bond. Like your hopes of escaping!

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    So because they build, crappy unreliable cars that are a pain to fix. The solution is to charge the same but strip the cars of quality and content that may make people actually buy them.. Vw is the new GM

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      They tried that already.

      It didn’t work.

      So maybe they’ll double down on it…

      Volkswagen has all of the same problems that killed the old GM, plus a few unique ones.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    An electric motor simply doesn’t need anything more than step-down gearing to maintain reasonable speed control and torque. That said, a smaller motor, say at 40 horses, could drive like an equivalent 120hp motor with a 3-speed or higher transmission attached, offering some potential for savings but also loading the motor more, which would potentially sacrifice range. Electric motors tend to have a higher ‘sweet spot’ for driving rpm while still offering notably more torque for startup and acceleration.

  • avatar
    brn

    The headline suggests an actual understanding of the word literal, but shows a willingness to still use it incorrectly.

    The dreams were not literally crushed. They were figuratively crushed, through the literal crushing of a prototype.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Makes sense.
    Some of the 8+ gearboxes currently available cannot even attain the highest gears in Australia, because of our speed limits.
    The new more ‘real world’ official fuel tests that are coming soon probably had something to do with that decision, as it is with engine architecture.

  • avatar
    RS

    VW needs CVT’s.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    “the new unit was said to be capable of handling up to 369 lb-ft of torque”

    That’s it?! The old 5AT from Chrysler LX cars can handle 427.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The infamous 01M 4-speed auto in my Jetta TDI couldn’t handle the torque provided by the little 2ish liter diesel under the hood.

      As far ad I know, they replaced thousands of them under warranty (the gearboxes lasted 50k miles at best), and never updated the design or otherwise recognized the problem.

      Probably need to give VW a handicap on their gearbox torque ratings…

  • avatar
    LazyJK

    It seems that VW/Audi have a strange propensity for destroying unique things, things that might actually be interesting for future generations. Another thing they crushed that I can name off the top of my head were Racing Touaregs (save for a museum piece or two) after the program was shut.

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