Honda Invests $150 Million In 10 Speed Transmission For Front Wheel Drive Cars


Honda has spent 6 years developing a ten speed automatic transmission that will fit in the narrow confines of a front wheel drive vehicle. The current version of the Honda Odyssey offers a 9 speed unit but the 2018 Odyssey, which goes into production later this year, will offer two trim levels that feature the new 10 speed device. The existing 9 speed unit will remain available in lower trim configurations.

Honda Odyssey 10 speed transmission

Designated the WCX17, a cutaway version of the new transmission was on display at the SAE annual conference on Tuesday of this week, where it attracted a lot of attention from engineers at other companies. “It’s extremely compact,” said Dave Varda, a senior project engineer at GM. Chi Teck Lee, a GM transmission specialist, wondered if the shifting would feel busy, although why it would feel any busier than a 9 speed transmission is an interesting question.

Tom Sladek, Honda’s powertrain development leader, explained to the audience that designing a transmission with so many gears that would fit the confines of the Odyssey was a difficult task. He said that engineers focused on reducing the size of two key elements of the transmission’s internal parts — the clutches and the output gear.

“First, we were able to take the typical wet clutch and one-way clutch and put them in one component. And that saved about 25mm of packaging space,” Sladek said. “The other is a combination internal/external gear — which internally we call gear-on-gear — essentially what it is the output gear, and internal to that we have a ring gear from one of the planetary sets. That alone is able to save 45 mm of packaging space.”

The engine in an Odyssey fitted with the new transmission will turn only 1560 rpm at 70 miles per hour Sladek says, which will boost fuel economy while reducing engine noise. He also said the transmission is capable of skipping gears on downshifts. For instance, when merging into highway traffic. the transmission could shift from ninth gear to fifth gear to provide the needed burst of acceleration.

While Ford and GM have co-developed a ten speed transmission, it is for rear wheel drive vehicles where packaging constraints are not as demanding. Honda says it will invest $150 million to retool two US factories to build the new transmission which will be fitted to several Honda and Acura products over the next decade.

According to Automobile Magazine, $100 million will go toward a new assembly line and production modifications for Honda Precision Parts of Georgia, where production of the 10-speed has already begun. Another $49 million will go for new equipment and greater capacity at Honda’s factory in Russells Point, Ohio.

If you are a Trump supporter, that $150 million is a waste of money forced on Honda by clueless regulators hell bent on destroying the automotive industry. If you are an environmentalist, that $150 million is proof that automakers are fully capable of meeting the CAFE standards of tomorrow with technology available today. If you are an electric car enthusiasts, you could believe the $150 million is money that could have been better spent developing a compelling electric car. Take your pick.

Source: Automotive News

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Ed
  • Jim Smith

    If you are a small government supporter you eliminate unneeded government regulations which cost everyone money in taxes and higher costs at the sticker, and allow people to vote with their dollars.

    • Steve Hanley

      Sadly, Jim, if economics are the only check on human behavior, we as a race are screwed, bigly!

      • Jim Smith

        you know better than I what is good or bad, right?

        • trackdaze

          Seat belts, airbags to name but a few.

          • Jim Smith

            yet all those things were available in cars before the government mandates. For example, seat belts were first offered in some american cars in 1949.

          • trackdaze

            Of course but we would be killing twice as many and have many more rubbish cars and dirtier air to boot.

            Side intrusion beams, stability control, impact resistant gas tanks, laminated glass.

          • Jim Smith

            all speculation about deaths. And frankly none of anyones business if someone chooses to use a seat belt. All the things you mention are there without the government. Simple to find examples.

            Needless government regulation which increases costs for everyone.

          • trackdaze

            needed regulation increases awesomeness.

          • Jim Smith

            sure, if you are incapable of critical and independent thinking

          • trackdaze

            You dont think baseline regulation has made seat belts, stability control, airbags and more powerful motors cheaper for more people?

          • Jim Smith

            no. regulations make things more expensive for everyone.

          • trackdaze

            A seatbelt at cadillac volumes is going to cost twice as much per unit than 1million chevy volumes.

            No regs no 10speed twin turbo v6 aluminium bodied Ford Raptor.

            Nor aluminium LS motors.

          • Jim Smith


          • trackdaze

            Any school economics class would suffice. Ok to ask the C- graders they get it.

            Perhaps i should put it in laymans terms. Order 1 pizza $5 order 3? $ 10 dollars.

          • Jim Smith

            wow. did not know economics classes taught about auto transmissions, engines and materials science. Not to mention, cars already had seat belts before the clueless bureaucrats stepped in to destroy freedom, but you are right, people putting their own money up to build cars would be lost without the idiots in Washington telling them how to do it.

    • David R

      Who decides what is needed or unneeded regulation?

      • Jim Smith

        voters. Unfortunately voters keep voting for big government loving politicians.

  • trackdaze

    They would have been better off spending the r&d on a electric motor to sandwich between the motor and gearbox that could then act as a first gear and lightly assist top gear.

    • Steve Hanley

      Stop making sense!

      • trackdaze

        well ok they could uprate the electric motor and replace the 9 speed with a 2speed powerglide or 3speed c6 to handle the massive amount of torque but still give them good terminal speed.

        which still kinda makes sense? no

    • Jim Smith

      how much would that add to the cost and would anyone pay the increase?

      • trackdaze

        Electric motors are cheaper.


  • Rick Danger

    Honda… Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic.

    • kevin mccune

      Sorry , I have to agree . Frankly Honda disappoints me sometimes .

  • jamesjm

    The more the moving parts, the more the breakdowns. What’s the ratio of moving parts in an ICE engine vs an EV? “Honda, we make it complicated!”

    • Ed

      See above!

      • jamesjm

        Ah! The second pic didn’t show until you clicked on it. This are interesting pics. Would be good to combine them so readers can see both easily. Did you include the differential on either? Nice share.

  • M98987

    Interesting death march of Honda.
    No new plugin’s or hybrids for America.

    And this tech will soon be obsolete with EV’s taking over.

  • roseland67

    150 million?
    Electric drives don’t even have a Transmission.

  • Guenther Wilke

    Why would the author jump to such foolish political statements at the end of an otherwise well written article. Perhaps the $150mil is best viewed as continued investment in American manufacturing.