Honda Patents New 11-Speed Tri-Clutch Automatic

Honda has reportedly filed a patent in Japan for a new automatic transmission with no less than 11 forward ratios and three clutches.

Despite predictions from ZF Auto CEO Stefan Sommer in 2012 that nine speeds was “the natural limit” for automatic transmissions, several carmakers are continuing to cram as many gears as possible into their autos.

Why? More gears allow for ultra-tall overdrive ratios that don’t impact on overall driveability – but they do lend themselves to improved fuel economy scores (and therefore, lower emissions in a world of ever-tightening regulations).

Also, kicking down from, say, eight gear to fourth in one step makes for impressive acceleration when required.

Honda already has a 10-speed unit in service, and Ford is known to be working on its own 11-speed ‘box.

Ford and GM have jointly developed both nine- and ten-speed autos, Jeep and Mercedes-Benz have nine-speed autos and BMW is joining the party.

Where Honda’s latest development differs, however, is the switch to three clutches (a ‘tri-clutch’, or ‘triple-clutch’ ..?).

AutoGuide reports that the thinking behind a third clutch is to virtually eliminate a bugbear known as ‘torque-removal’ – a problem experienced by some dual-clutch auto drivers.

Despite three months having passed since the patent was filed, Honda is yet to announced which of its models may get the new 11-speed auto.

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