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Has everyone gone crazy, or is my opinion hopelessly outdated? Judge for yourself, because just now, the first car with a nine-speed converter-automatic has appeared. You will have noticed, I'm not really a fan. Now it's even established itself among the transverse-mounted engines.

Someone found out, that one doesn't necessarily need an additional (partial) planetary set for each new gear. Up to now, one could still hope, that only a certain number of gears could be fitted crosswise into a car.

Who is actually behind the scenes, always pushing this technology to (partial) victories? Because actually, this principle is at most, suitable for very high-torque engines, e.g., in trucks, and in this case, the friction- clutch really suffers.

Give it a thought, once the converter has done its job, it must still be carried along, together with its oil, for perhaps hundreds of kilometres. Although its two main gearwheels are meshed with each other, one won't be able to completely prevent the splashing about.

Because this disadvantage that the converter has is long since known, there are a group of engineers in the service of the supplier-industries, who are constantly adding more gears, so that afterwards, they can work on ironing out this natural disadvantage again.

Thereby, every additional pair of gearwheels, must somewhere along the line, use more fuel, even if it's only very little. The compensation is only successful, because one can exploit the resources of the combustion engine at very low RPM.

The only thing is, when driving in normal city-traffic, this surge of power is almost always disturbed by the car in front. To be quite honest, a simple sequential gearbox would be quite enough for me.

Particularly, because then the extra cost could be somewhat put into perspective. For the same price, some manufacturers even offer an all-wheel drive, although it isn't my intention to recommend this either.

Not enough griping? Ok, then also the amount of speeds is sometimes exaggerated. Porsche, e.g., has a 7-speed manual gearbox in their programme. With so many gears, one doesn't even notice an increase in speed, all one is doing, is changing from one gear to another.

There is actually, no reason why an automatic gearbox shouldn't have more gears, it is however, a stairwell joke in the history of the automobile, that the previous, rather asthmatic engines, with very peak maximum torque, had to manage with three or four speeds.

I personally, would be satisfied with five speeds, if their ratios were far enough apart. Particularly modern engines, have a wide usable torque range. If then, this would be coupled to an automatic clutch …

By the way, ingenious electronics would also be a very good idea. It would have to make the customary synchronisation unnecessary and change gears exactly when the gearwheels were running at concentric speeds. I would be willing to sacrifice a little time for that.

Most of the time, one is faster than the everyday driver stuck in the everyday stress anyway. The engine can be shut down at the traffic lights, and despite having to start-up again, one can still pull off ahead of the others.

The advantage of an electrically powered car, lies in its simplicity. It often has a fixed gear-ratio and the fabulous, sometimes even adjustable, recuperation feature. In this case, one drives and brakes using only one pedal.

Why shouldn't we react to the new competition and exploit something similar to this in the combustion engine, as long as it's still around? What I need in the complex business of driving in traffic, are not the results of slalom-tests but the simplest possible handling and operation. 04/14

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