Published at Tuesday, 14 April 2020. manual car. By Suzette Dubois.
Cars need transmissions because of the physics of the gasoline engine. First, any engine has a redline — a maximum rpm value above which the engine cannot go without exploding. Second, if you have read How Horsepower Works, then you know that engines have narrow rpm ranges where horsepower and torque are at their maximum. For example, an engine might produce its maximum horsepower at 5,500 rpm. The transmission allows the gear ratio between the engine and the drive wheels to change as the car speeds up and slows down. You shift gears so the engine can stay below the redline and near the rpm band of its best performance.
The transmission is connected to the engine through the clutch. The input shaft of the transmission therefore turns at the same rpm as the engine, which improves both power output and fuel economy. CVTs became common in hybrid cars because they are considerably more efficient than both manual and traditional automatic transmissions, and their popularity skyrocketed from there as automakers competed for the best possible fuel economy ratings. As of late 2016, one out of every four cars sold in the United States was equipped with a CVT.
Manual transmissions haven’t seen the rapid increase in forward gears that automatic transmissions have with the rise of eight-, nine- and 10-speed automatics, but cars like the Porsche 911 offer seven-speed manuals rather than the more common six-speed gearbox. What’s the benefit? The extra seventh gear is very tall, which means better gas mileage during highway cruising.
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