It has taken many decades of engineering and consumer demand, but transmissions are finally starting to offer a serious number of gears. Eight-speed automatic transmissions are all the rage these days, offering gears for performance and fuel economy at a time when buyers are demanding both. This has led some automakers to develop in-house transmissions, while others outsource the work to dedicated manufactuers.
According to Motor Trend, GM has found itself in a bit of a bind regarding its next-generation transmissions for the upcoming 2014 C7 Corvette, among other vehicles. Their own in-house unit isn’t quite ready yet, so the General has outsourced the work to Aisin, a company owned in part by Toyota. It appears this delay only affects the automatic transmission, as other rumors indicate that GM has outsourced the 7-speed manual transmission to ZF.
Aisin makes two eight-speed automatic transmissions, including one capable of handling high torque loads for cars like the upcoming Corvette. More importantly though, GM needs to offer a smooth and efficient eight-speed automatic for its Cadillac brand. Other automakers like Mercedes and Chrysler already offer eight-speed automatics, so GM really needs to offer the same just to stay competitive.
But rather than rush an unfinished unit out the door, GM is staying its hand and taking the time to get their own transmission right. But they can’t delay their vehicles for too long either, so in the interim GM will use Aisin’s off-the-shelf units for cars like the Cadillac XTS and Corvette C7. When GM’s own 8-speed transmission will be ready, nobody knows. Hopefully this placeholder engine is up to the task of the next Corvette’s immense horsepower.