The new transmission is an eight speed automatic with paddle sifters, intended to rival the semi-automatic transmission technologies being employed by European manufacturers. The steering wheel paddles afford the driver the full control of a manual transmission. This is coupled with the smoothness and fluidity of an automatic transmission with a torque converter.
The 8L90’s transmission controller is capable of analyzing the transmission system and executing commands in excess of 160 times per second. With this level of responsiveness, the transmission can upshift faster than Porsche’s PDK dual-clutch transmission found in the 911 model line.
The 8L90 has four gearsets and five clutches, yet is packaged in a space-saving manner which allows it to fit in the same space as its six speed predecessor. GM has made much more extensive use of lightweight metals, such as aluminum and magnesium,which has allowed the 8L90 to weigh in eight pounds lighter than GM’s six speed automatic. 5% greater efficiency is also achieved over the six speed.
The new transmission will make its debut on the 2015 Corvette Stingray but will soon permeate the rest of GM’s model line. An entry into the Camaro line is expected in the near future, and certain Cadillac vehicles will also get the 8L90, among them the Escalade. This will give the Camaro a leg up over its competition, as it will be about the only sports car in its class to offer an eight speed automatic transmission, with rivals such as the Mustang only offering six speeds.
We also have word that Ford and GM are jointly developing a ten speed automatic transmission for a host of applications, with such a project in its early stages of development.