Chrysler claims its new transmission can save more than 700 million gallons of gasoline consumption, which translates into $2.5 billion. If the claim is true, and other car manufacturers can match the efficiency over time, the savings could add to a number much greater than that.
The Chrysler claim is:
Fuel savings and emissions reductions attributed to TorqueFlite eight-speed transmissions are adding up to substantial gains for Chrysler Group customers.
The advanced-technology automatics — first of their kind ever made available to mainstream-brand customers — now are powering more than one million vehicles, worldwide. And their combined effect is staggering.
Over their lifetimes, vehicles equipped with TorqueFlite eight-speed transmissions are projected to save their owners more than 700 million gallons of fuel, compared with their predecessors that featured five- or six-speed automatics. That quantity of gasoline is worth approximately $2.5 billion at the pump, based on current fuel-price forecasts.
This will also reduce combined CO2 emissions by more than six million metric tonnes.
Chrysler started to sell cars equipped with the transmission in 2014 models. The use of the technology currently extents to 19 models.
While the claim is extraordinary, and impossible to prove, it points to the improvement in gas mileage that almost all large manufacturers have achieved and are likely to increase in the future. Some of these are based on engine configurations, like the Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) Ecoboost technology. Other improvements rely on hybrid cars and on smaller engines that produce more horsepower because of turbo technology. Taken together, the fuel saved has changed, and will change, the fuel consumption patterns of cars and light and heavy trucks sold by all manufacturers.
The well-known University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute recently released its average sales-weighted fuel economy numbers for May 2014. The data are based on current model year sales each month. The figure hit a record level of 25.6 miles per gallon. That compares to 20.1 miles per gallon in October 2007, when the organization started to keep numbers. Each year from 2007 to 2013 has posted an improvement. Based on current trends, 2014 will continue this trend.
Whether or not the Chrysler numbers turn out to be exactly accurate, they are part of an industry pattern for fuel saving that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.