Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

ABSTRACT

As the U.S. government enacts new regulations for automotive fuel economy and emissions, the continuously variable transmission, or CVT, continues to emerge as a key technology for improving the fuel efficiency of automobiles with internal combustion (IC) engines. CVTs use infinitely adjustable drive ratios instead of discrete gears to attain optimal engine performance. Since the engine always runs at the most efficient number of revolutions per minute for a given vehicle speed, CVT-equipped vehicles attain better gas mileage and acceleration than cars with traditional transmissions.
CVTs are not new to the automotive world, but their torque capabilities and reliability have been limited in the past. New developments in gear reduction and manufacturing have led to ever-more-robust CVTs, which in turn allows them to be used in more diverse automotive applications. CVTs are also being developed in conjunction with hybrid electric vehicles. As CVT development continues, costs will be reduced further and performance will continue to increase, which in turn makes further development and application of CVT technology desirable.
This paper evaluates the current state of CVTs and upcoming research and development, set in the context of past development and problems traditionally associated with CVTs. The underlying theories and mechanisms are also discussed.

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