What Is CVT Transmission?

by Geoffrey St. Marie

Technology is constantly changing, and the Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) is an example of one such advancement (an advancement that offers a striking divergence from the automotive technology of previous generations). The CVT is a common feature in the expanding hybrid market.


The acronym CVT refers to a continuously variable transmission. The gears of a CVT transmission are quite different from those of a traditional automatic or standard transmission. In this sense, it does not contain the same form of "fixed-gear" setup that other transmissions typically employ.


Instead of a permanent set of gears (identified as a four-speed or five-speed transmission), the CVT derives its functioning from pulleys and belts that expand the number of gear-ratios possible. A CVT transmission allows the engine to produce more power and sustain it over a longer period of time. This is one reason why a CVT is frequently found in hybrid vehicles that are seeking to create power in new ways.


The primary benefit of a CVT, other than the power issue, is the way that it feels. For many vehicle operators, gear shifting with traditional transmissions may feel rough or overly punctuated. A CVT transitions between gears so rapidly and efficiently that the driver rarely senses these effects.

About the Author

Geoffrey St. Marie began writing professionally in 2010, with his work focusing on topics in history, culture, politics and society. He received his Bachelor of Arts in European history from Central Connecticut State University and his Master of Arts in modern European history from Brown University.