We were all happy with the 6 speed transmissions that appeared a few years back for performance and efficiency. Then MB released a 7 speed auto making the 6 speed look obsolete and BMW driver’s green with envy.
This past year Lexus toted they had the worlds first 8 speed auto. This was an interesting development as BMW did not even have a 7 speed. The 8 speed Lexus offering is only available in the land yacht sized LS because it too (like the LS) is a bit too large for other models in the brand’s line up. With the introduction of the next generation 7 series BMW will launch its first 8 speed gearbox.
In order to keep up with the Jones’ BMW has had to think a bit outside the box. Our sources indicate that the transmission BMW will utilize takes up the same amount of space as the current 6 speeds and will not use additional components. This has been made possible by a completely new transmission concept. We have learned that it utilizes four planetary gear sets and five transmission clutches. Two transmission clutches are unlocked per gear, thus resulting in greater efficiency and a higher overall transmission ratio.
It is touted as being smoother and will reduce fuel consumption by almost six percent; way to go Efficient Dynamics! Since it is the same size as the current 6 speeds, a larger hump or other invasions into the passenger cabin space is not necessary. The gear selector will also return to the console from its previous stalk location; a well welcomed change for many. BMW had explored other options but testing indicated that an 8 speed is the most efficient form of transmission because of the optimal use of gear ratios, weight and size. 9 and 10 speeds boxes actually showed a decrease in efficiency and additional size constraints.
This transmission is modular in design so it can be used in various applications. This will make it available for use in Hybrids and X-Drive vehicles, which the 7 Series will feature. This transmission should be available in all varieties that BMW will offer the 7 series in, allowing BMW to reduce costs associated with different drive-train combinations.
This transmission will make its debut in the F01 7 series to be followed later by the F10 5er.