VW to release 10-speed gearbox by 2016

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Volkswage's assault on carbon emissions will see the introduction of a 10-speed DSG.

Volkswagen is currently testing a 10-speed automatic DSG (direct shift gearbox) for use in cars such as the Golf and Polo, in a bid to further reduce fleet wide CO2 emissions.

Volkswagen Group's Powertrain Development boss, Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, explained that all brands under the VW Group umbrella – such as Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT and Skoda – will adopt smaller engines, to be paired with advanced twin-clutch automatic transmissions.

"We will have more downsizing, we will have more three-cylinder [engines], diesel technology will be improved for four and three-cylinders.

"From the transmission side, we will stay with DSG technology, but we will improve it and we will have more gears, 10-gears," said Neusser.

The straight-talking VW Group powertrain supremo said the new 10-speed DSGs will be offered to customers "in a few years" and said that prototypes are already undergoing testing.

"We have cars already running with this [10-speed gearbox]," he said, and it's now expected we'll see their deployment in 2016.

Volkswagen announced it was developing a 10-speed DSG in April, and joins the likes of General Motors, Ford and Hyundai in offering customers 10-speed automatic transmissions.

Volkswagen currently offers six- and seven-speed DSG transmissions.

Jeep's new nine-speed auto-equipped Cherokee SUV and the updated Range Rover Evoque will be the first of the new wave of vehicles to offer high-numbered gearboxes in Australia, both arriving locally in early 2014.

As Dr Neusser explained, its new 10-speed DSG could be considered a six- or seven-speed unit, because the first two gears are effectively combined, while ninth and tenth gears are simply overdrive ratios for saving fuel at highway speeds.

"It could have been nine or 11, but we said 10 because then we have two more gears for take-off, a short first gear and a simultaneous second gear, a blending of the clutches. That makes for more take-off performance. We have higher gear ratios for lower fuel consumption," he clarified.

Stricter European limits on fleet wide CO2 emissions are forcing car makers to come up with new solutions to make their vehicles greener, and Volkswage's 10-speed gearbox will help the company meet European legislation that requires fleet-average CO2 emissions of 95g/km or less by 2020.

As a guide, the Toyota Prius hybrid's CO2 emissions are rated at 89g/km, while a V6 Commodore Evoke emits 198g/km.

For the foreseeable future petrol and diesel cars will still make up the majority of new cars globally, with hybrids expected to make an impact on mainstream buying trends towards the end of the decade.

Volkswagen signalled its intent to be the world leader in zero emission electric cars by 2018 at the Frankfurt motor show, but is looking at numerous approaches to improve the efficiency of its combustion engine-powered vehicles, not just advanced gearboxes.

"We will pull a minimum of 60kg out of all new models when we come to the successor," said Neusser of all new models, with some cars shedding up to 100kg.

"Air resistance? We will have in future more optimised cars with flat underbodies, improved shapes. Rolling resistance [will improve] too," he said, highlighting the lessons learned from the exotic XL1 hybrid car (pictured).

Dr Neusser also confirmed that the company's new MQB platform the current seventh generation Golf sits on will streamline the 'greening' of the Volkswagen Group's fleet, as it will underpin the majority of the company's cars in five year's time.

"All of these measures are combined in the new MQB platform and we can then directly influence the total CO2 of the fleet group, because nearly 80 per cent of all brands in 2018 are using the MQB platform. It's the easiest way," Neusser concluded.

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Words: Feann Torr
www.motoring.com.au