An 8-Speed Transmission Will Make the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray More Efficient and Faster
Edmunds announced this morning that a Society of Automotive Engineers discussion with GM Corvette spokesman Monte Doran claimed that there is an 8-speed automatic transmission on the way for the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. This new 8-speed automatic gearbox is expected to be called the 8L90 and it will almost certainly replace the 6-speed automatic transmission that is currently at work in the 2014 Corvette Stingray and Stingray Convertible.
The addition of an 8-speed automatic transmission to the option list of the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray will draw attention for a variety of reasons with the most significant difference being improved fuel economy. The 6th, 7th and 8th gears will likely all serve as overdrive gears with an extremely high drive ratio so when cruising at speeds, the Corvette engine is operating at much lower RPMs and that leads to better fuel economy. The addition of the extra gears not only allows for far less aggressive gearing on the top end but it also allows engineers to give lower end gears more aggressive ratios for stronger acceleration while also having much smaller steps between each gear. For example, with an old school 3 speed automatic transmission, since there were only three speeds, the engineers were limited on just how aggressively they could set each gear and with a bigger jump in ratio from gear to gear – performance would suffer.
In short, this new 8-speed automatic transmission will allow for better low end acceleration, improved fuel economy (especially on the highway) and less RPM drop from gear to gear which helps keep the engine at its optimal operating range in the future Corvette. Even though drivers of the 8-speed automatic equipped Corvette Stingray will find themselves shifting more frequently than those folks with the 2014 Stingray fitted with the 6-speed automatic, the improvements in pretty much every category well make the extra push of the steering wheel mounted shift paddles well worth the “trouble”. Also, the close ratio 8-speed will make shifts less pronounced when the car is left to shift on its own so the future Corvette Stingray will offer a smoother, more comfortable ride under calmer driving situations.
Replacing the 6-speed automatic with the 8-speed automatic for the future Chevrolet Corvette Stingray could have a big impact on sales provided that this new gearbox has the advantages that I addressed above. During the early stages of 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray sales, roughly 60% of those Chevy sports cars ordered have the automatic transmission. Making those self shifting Corvettes more efficient and better performing may not steal sales from the Stingrays with a proper manual transmission but a faster, fuel-friendlier automatic Corvette could help attract even more buyers.