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Continuously Variable Transmission: Advantages and Disadvantages

Continuous variable transmission or CVT as its commonly known is a type of automatic transmission that automatically changes the speed ratio between the engine and wheels of an automobile.

Unlike conventional gearboxes which are limited by ratios, CVT has the advantage of having an infinite speed ratio.

Gear Ratio and Tire Size Chart
Gear Ratio and Tire Size Chart

Like any other transmission technology in the market today CVT also has its fair share of Pros & Cons.

Here we will be discussing the advantages and Disadvantages of a continuously variable transmission system.

Advantages of a Continuous variable transmission system

(a) Design Factor:

Unlike traditional manual or even automatic transmissions, CVT by nature is simple by design.

Inside a Continuously variable transmission system box the actual working and moving components are much less making it more compact.

This makes it ideal for compact vehicles and two-wheelers.

(b) Acceleration Advantage:

In manual and traditional automatic transmission the process from stop to start and De-accelerating is seldom smooth.

This is due to the various stages of mechanical processes happening to give the desired acceleration.

In the case of CVT, the acceleration is really smooth as it varies the gear ratio continuously and seamlessly.

CVT also provides greater torque as it allows the engine to rev up in the least time possible.

(c) Fuel Efficiency:

There is a constant change in ratio to engine shaft speed and driveshaft speed in a CVT system, additionally, the CVT system is also armed with an array of sensors which keeps the power delivery in check irrespective of the speed of the vehicle and the engine.

All this results in a greater fuel economy and Efficiency specifically in a start-stop city like traffic conditions.

This also leads to a greener engine as the emissions are well in check.

Disadvantages of Continuous Variable Transmission System

(a) Limited Torque Handling:

A CVT’s torque handling capacity is largely limited by the strength of the variator belt.

This particular component in the CVT system is prone to breakdowns at times.

However, With the advent of new technology seldom we would find any such breakdowns but the downside is limited operational capacity.

(b) Quality of drive:

Although CVT provides a smooth ride, However, the element of personal driving style and ride preference comes in to play here.

Some people like the way CVT helps their overall driving experience and some absolutely hate it.

At times there is also an issue with noise that emanates from a CVT enabled vehicle.

(c) The cost factor:

Generally, a vehicle with CVT is more expensive than its manual or traditional automatic transmission sibling.

Also, the cost of repairs and maintenance of a CVT vehicle is significantly higher in comparison with non-CVT variants.

Whenever a CVT fails it always attracts a complete change of the entire unit as the cost of individual components surpasses the cost of a new unit.

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