Yes. You read it right. Holding the mast in the technology game has always driven car makers to build outrageous stuff – some part of which actually trickled down to our daily cars. After General Motors employed a 10-speed automatic gearbox on the Camaro last year bettering ZF’s nine-speed box, Honda has gone one step ahead, adding another gear to the fray. And not only that, they have added another clutch, too!
So, according to the patent filing in Japan (which is not accessible anymore), Honda is building an 11-speed triple-clutch automatic transmission. According to Honda engineers, the triple clutch setup will reduce the torque drop between shifting gears and also help in speeding up the shifts. While this would be ideal for motorsport, for everyday cars, it means better economy, better energy efficiency and hence lower emissions.
Since there is hardly any information about the architecture of the triple clutch gearbox, we will have to do some guesswork. The shaft in shaft setup of the dual-clutch might have another shaft in it and another clutch stacked up. But for the lay shafts and the gears, Honda might not be able to continue with the planar layout unless they are okay with the gearbox length extending further. For the same length of the gearbox, the lay shafts might be positioned in a triangular layout with the output shaft in the centre of the triangle, increasing the diametric dimensions of the gearbox anyway.
Due to the increase in size, it would be quite difficult to fit the gearbox in regular transverse engine setup found in small cars. Also, with modern CVTs offering a similar if not a better solution, the 11-speed triple-clutch setup will be limited to longitudinal setups and big engines. The ideal customers for this kind of a gearbox would be the massive trucks that Honda sells in the US or a supercar. But with the NSX already going the electric way, the chances are slim on that end. We will have to wait and see till we get a clear picture of the technology and its application but till then, Honda will be working hard to get the bragging rights for the gearbox.