I bought a second-hand Toyota RAV4 2015 automatic, and I feel I am driving a gearbox instead of an engine. That feeling intrigued me into remembering LJK Setright’s article on gearboxes in CAR Magazine in the late 1980s. He concluded the article on how a revolution in gearboxes would come from Holland, The Netherlands. The DAF Variomatic gearbox was the new gearbox of the future. It has now got 50 years of development built into it and is known as a Continuously Variable Transmission, a CVT and is in my Toyota.
LJKS and I were driving fuelcars, fuelies; and my Toyota RAV4 with a CVT transmission has a 2-litre, 150 bhp four cylinder engine. How the CVT-box varied the gear ratio was not noticeable as it was in the traditional ZF 4-speed automatic transmission in my Land Rover Discovery V8. The Toyota CVT kept the engine’s rpm at a surprisingly low 1200-2200 rpm in town and landscape driving, easily keeping up with traffic, and promising to go well faster with its ECO-mode lamp still glowing. This is remarkable because the engine gives out maximum torque at 3200 rpm and maximum power at 6200 rpm, so only a third of available energy is used.
My care and consideration for the environment shifted my thinking about higher speeds to this competent engine that was driving the Toyota. A good engine, but what if it was replaced by an electric motor? That would have meant a first ever electric motor with a gearbox. Toyota’s CVT is a well proven gearbox. It would have reduced the el-motorspeed, and reduced battery drain. It would also have allowed smaller el-motors to have less battery consumption with smaller battery packs, or increased mileage. Larger cars could increase their travel distance, maybe doubled or tripled mileage and the battery’s resource drain on the environment.
The battery-electric motorcar on CVT gearing would be a power efficient, fast as you like, carozzeria, a coach and a van, all built and driven intelligently. Not as intelligently as Steve Jobs’ pedal bike about town, but perhaps more so. A bike has a set of gears in its basic form. Its selection of gears is what makes the bike intelligent, not the rider on top of the frame.
Electric motorbikes on CVT would be intelligent. Standard bikes are there for riders to feel the excitement of operating the mechanics. That’s it; thrills, and we love it!
An electric motor’s 6000 rpm top speed will be reduced to 2000 rpm at high legal speeds by the CVT, promising to reduce the drain on the batteries 2-3 fold. Battery life is a weak point in electric cars. An electric motor with a CVT transmission will be able to double and even triple battery life beyond zero emissions, healing the battery’s weakness.
Is this what is coming for the model year 2022 with the Toyota bZ4X? If not, «beyond zero» will be meaningless.
Toyota’s promotional material says they will launch the Beyond Zero electric crossover. It is fully electric and teaser photos show automatic gearbox controls. Have Toyota been brave enough to solve the battery problem of electric cars? And the range problem as per above? Or have they compromised to deliver a mechanical first gear for the masses instead of the purity of the CVT?
Darth Wader styling-theme and now the Starship Toyota travelling beyond Zero. That’s nice to know.
ZF Friedrichshafen, Zahnradfabrik, should make gearboxes again. ZF CVT gearboxes.
I used to think I was quick at changing gears but automatics are much faster. The Variomatic has abolished all stops in its continuum, its endless loop, its high tech infinite loop.
The Apple Car needs to have a variomatic cvt transmission. Maybe the development of an infinite transmission of power is what is holding it up?