Kwak, Y. and Cleveland, C., "Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) Fuel Economy," SAE Technical Paper 2017-01-2355, 2017.
Due to its simplicity and fuel economy benefit, continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology has gained a lot of attention in recent years. Market penetration of CVT technology is increasing rapidly compared to step-type automatic transmission technology. OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, and lubricant suppliers are working to further improve the fuel economy benefit of CVTs. As a lubricant supplier, we want to understand the effects of fluid properties on CVT fuel economy (FE). We have formulated fluids that had KV100 ranges from 2-4 cSt to 7-9 cSt with various types and viscosities of base oils. Wide ranges of viscosity indexes, steel-on-steel friction, and other properties were tested. Full vehicle fuel economy tests were performed in a temperature controlled environment with a robotic driver. The test revealed that there was more than 3% overall FE variation compared to a reference fluid. Iron content analysis following each test confirmed there was no noticeable transmission wear, and average sump temperature increase was found to be more dependent on driving cycle rather than fluid.