Continuously variable automatic transmissions, better known as CVTs, have been making a comeback of late, especially as automakers keep pushing for smoother, more efficient ways to deliver an engine’s power. They fell out of favor, however, because they weren’t equipped to handle their engines’ power, prematurely failing in many cases.
A new lawsuit claims that BMW’s Mini brand has allegedly seen such problems. Used on the first generation of the rebooted Mini Cooper that made its way back to the U.S., the lawsuit claims that Mini cut corners to save costs at the expense of owners. The suit, filed in Miami’s U.S. District Court, says that according to Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices law, the 2002 to 2006 Mini Cooper hardtop and 2005 to 2008 Mini Cooper convertible were built with an under-engineered CVT. Suits in other states have also been brought up under similar pretenses.
CVTs work with a transmission gear “cone” running a chain across it. When the chain runs on the smaller part of the cone, it simulates running in a lower gear for more power, whereas running on the wider part is often for higher speeds and more efficiency. Theoretically, a CVT should be more efficient than a traditional automatic because it’s constantly adjusting for speeds and needed power.
After the first generation Mini Cooper, the automaker ditched its CVT in favor of a more traditional six-speed automatic transmission. It also moved to sharing an engine with French automaker Peugeot instead of using the Chrysler design from the first-generation model. Whatever the motivations for the changes, we’re sure they’ll come out in court.
Source: Wall Street Journal