GM’s Future Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Transmission Revealed in Patent Filing

A patent filing has revealed that the dry dual-clutch transmission GM announced it was developing with partner Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) is in fact a seven-speed front-wheel-drive transmission. While we’ve been aware of GM’s work on a new front-wheel-drive dry dual-clutch transmission, the company and its Chinese partner, SAIC, have kept quiet on the specifics. As this patent filing reveals, the new transmission is a seven-speed unit, which so far is the greatest number of gears GM has ever used in a passenger car transmission and the company’s first dual-clutch transmission. The new transmission was announced at the same time as a new turbocharged and direct-injected small gasoline engine that will displace 1.0- to 1.5 liters depending on application, suggesting that the two will be designed to work together. The big question, then, is the extent of the transmission’s capabilities. GM front-wheel-drive powertrains in the U.S. range from the 1.4-liter I-4 in the compact Chevy Cruze to the 3.6-liter V-6 in everything from the big Buick LaCrosse and large crossovers like the GMC Acadia. The patent filing makes no claims to the transmission’s torque capacity, so there’s no way to be sure what engines it will accommodate, though it’s likely it won’t make the leap to heavier crossovers. So far, the only place the dual-clutch transmission has surfaced is in the poorly-received Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept shown in Los Angeles last year, suggesting that it is still in development and not yet ready for production. However, the patent application was filed in April of 2008 and published in November 2010, so GM has at least three years of work put into it already and a patent may soon be awarded, if it hasn’t been already. The final question, then, is when GM’s DCT will see production and in what vehicles. We’d lay odds on small cars like the Chevrolet Cruze and upcoming Buick Verano. Source: Free Patents Online

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