Many small tractors for home and garden use have simple hydrostatic or rubber belt CVTs. For example, the John Deere Gator line of small utility vehicles use a belt with a conical pulley system. They can deliver a lot of power and can reach speeds of 10-15 MPH, all without need for a clutch or shift gears. Many new snowmobiles and motorscooters use CVTs. Virtually all snowmobile and motor scooter CVTs are rubber belt/variable pulley CVTs.
Some combine harvesters have CVTs. The CVT allows the forward speed of the combine to be adjusted independently of the engine speed. This allows the operator to slow down and speed up as needed to accommodate variations in thickness of the crop.
CVTs have been used in aircraft electrical power generating systems since the 1950s and in SCCA Formula 500 race cars since the early 1970s. More recently, CVT systems have been developed for go-karts and have proven to increase performance and engine life expectancy. The Tomcar range of off-road vehicles also utilizes the CVT system.
Some older drill presses contain a pulley-based CVT where the output shaft has a pair of manually-adjustable conical pulley halves through which a wide drive belt from the motor loops. The pulley on the motor, however, is usually fixed in diameter, or may have a series of given-diameter steps to allow a selection of speed ranges. A handwheel on the drill press, marked with a scale corresponding to the desired machine speed, is mounted to a reduction gearing system for the operator to precisely control the width of the gap between the pulley halves. This gap width thus adjusts the gearing ratio between the motor's fixed pulley and the output shaft's variable pulley, changing speed of the chuck; a tensioner pulley is implemented in the belt transmission to take up or release the slack in the belt as the speed is altered. In most cases, however, the drill press' speed cannot be changed with the motor running.
Toroidal CVTs are made up of discs and rollers that transmit power between the discs. The discs can be pictured as two almost conical parts, point to point, with the sides dished such that the two parts could fill the central hole of a torus. One disc is the input, and the other is the output (they do not quite touch). Power is transferred from one side to the other by rollers. When the roller's axis is perpendicular to the axis of the near-conical parts, it contacts the near-conical parts at same-diameter locations and thus gives a 1:1 gear ratio. The roller can be moved along the axis of the near-conical parts, changing angle as needed to maintain contact. This will cause the roller to contact the near-conical parts at varying and distinct diameters, giving a gear ratio of something other than 1:1. Systems may be partial or full toroidal. Full toroidal systems are the most efficient design while partial toroidals may still require a torque converter, and hence lose efficiency.
Most IVTs result from the combination of a CVT with an epicyclic gear system (which is also known as a planetary gear system) which enforces an output shaft rotation speed which is equal to the difference between two other speeds. If these two other speeds are the input and output of a CVT, there can be a setting of the CVT that results in an output speed of zero. The maximum output/input ratio can be chosen from infinite practical possibilities through selection of additional input or output gear, pulley or sprocket sizes without affecting the zero output or the continuity of the whole system. The IVT is always engaged, even during its zero output adjustment.
IVTs can in some implementations offer better efficiency when compared to other CVTs as in the preferred range of operation because most of the power flows through the planetary gear system and not the controlling CVT. Torque transmission capability can also be increased. There's also possibility to stage power splits for further increase in efficiency, torque transmission capability and better maintenance of efficiency of a wide gear ratio range.
An example of a true IVT is the Hydristor because the front unit connected to the engine can displace from zero to 27 cubic inches per revolution forward and zero to -10 cubic inches per revolution reverse. The rear unit is capable of zero to 75 cubic inches per revolution.
These CVTs can transfer substantial torque because their static friction actually increases relative to torque throughput, so slippage is impossible in properly designed systems. Efficiency is generally high because most of the dynamic friction is caused by very slight transitional clutch speed changes. The drawback to ratcheting CVTs is vibration caused by the successive transition in speed required to accelerate the element which must supplant the previously operating & decelerating, power transmitting element.
Ratcheting CVTs are distinguished from VDPs and roller-based CVTs by being static friction-based devices, as opposed to being dynamic friction-based devices that waste significant energy through slippage of twisting surfaces. An example of a racheting CVT is one prototyped as a bicycle transmission protected under U.S. Patent #5516132 in which strong pedalling torque causes this mechanism to react against the spring, moving the ring gear/chainwheel assembly toward a concentric, lower gear position. When the pedalling torque relaxes to lower levels, the transmission self-adjusts toward higher gears, accompanied by an increase in transmission vibration.
A running prototype and functioning animation of a two stage ratcheting CVT can be found below:
An integrated hydrostatic transaxle (IHT) uses a single housing for both hydraulic elements and gear-reducing elements. This type of transmission, most commonly manufactured by Hydro-Gear (as of 2008 - Tuff Torq may have taken the lead in 2006 and 2007 - this data needs a cite), has been effectively applied to a variety of inexpensive and expensive versions of ridden lawn mowers and garden tractors. Many versions of riding lawn mowers and garden tractors propelled by a hydrostatic transmission are capable of pulling a reverse tine tiller and even a single bladed plow.
One class of riding lawn mower that has recently gained in popularity with consumers is zero turning radius mowers. These mowers have traditionally been powered with wheel hub mounted hydraulic motors driven by continuously variable pumps, but this design is relatively expensive. Hydro-Gear, created the first cost-effective integrated hydrostatic transaxle suitable for propelling consumer zero turning radius mowers.
Some heavy equipment may also be propelled by a hydrostatic transmission; e.g. agricultural machinery including foragers combines and some tractors. A variety of heavy earth-moving equipment manufactured by Caterpillar Inc., e.g. compact and small wheel loaders, track type loaders and tractors, skid-steered loaders and asphalt compactors use hydrostatic transmission. Hydrostatic CVTs are usually not used for extended duration high torque applications due to the heat that is generated by the flowing oil.
Diagram and video clip:
In the single cone type, there is a revolving body (a wheel) that moves on the generatrix of the cone, thereby creating the variation between the inferior and the superior diameter of the cone.
In a CVT with oscillating cones, the torque is transmitted via friction from a variable number of cones (according to the torque to be transmitted) to a central, barrel-shaped hub. The side surface of the hub is convex according to a determined radius of curvature, which is smaller than the concavity radius of the cones. In this way, there will be only one (theoretical) contact point between each cone and the hub.
A revolutionary new CVT using this technology, the Warko, was presented in Berlin during the 6th International CTI Symposium of Innovative Automotive Transmissions, on 3-7 December 2007.
A particular characteristic of the Warko is the absence of a clutch: the engine is always connected to the wheels, and the rear drive is obtained by means of an epicyclic system in output. This system, named “ power split”, allows the condition of geared neutral or "zero Dynamic": when the engine turns(connected to the sun gear of the epicyclic system), the variator (which rotates the ring of the epicyclic system in the opposite sense to the sun gear), in a particular position of its range, will compensate for the engine rotation, having zero turns in output (planetary = the output of the system). As a consequence, the satellite gears roll within an internal ring gear.
Modularity, wide ratio range (= 9), high efficiency (95%), high torque capability (up to 500 Nm) and compactness (less than 36 cm length for 31 cm diameter and 60 kg) are the most important characteristics of the Warko.
The same device, with the same identical cone but in different configurations, covers 90% of the engines produced all over the world, with a power range that goes from 60 to 200 Hp, gasoline and diesel. Because millions will be manufactured, its production costs will be comparable to mechanical transmission costs.
For more details see EP1688645A1
The motion transmission between rollers and rotors is assisted by an adapted traction fluid, which ensures the proper friction between the surfaces and slows down wearing thereof. Unlike other systems, the radial rollers do not show a tangential speed variation (delta) along the contact lines on the rotors. From this, a greater mechanical efficiency and working life are obtained. The main advantages of this CVT are the manufacturing inexpensiveness and the high power efficiency.
In 1910 Zenith Motorcycles built a V2-Motorcycle with the Gradua-Gear which was a CVT. This Zenith-Gradua was so successful in hillclimb events, that it was eventually barred, so that other manufacturers had a chance to win. (wiki: Zenith Motorcycles)
1912 the british motorcycle manufacturer Rudge-Whitworth built the Rudge Multi. The Multi was an much improved version of Zenith's Gradua-Gear. The Rudge Multi was so successful that CVT-gears were eventually barred at the famous Tourist Trophy race (which was the world's most important motorcycle race before the great war) from 1913 on.
An early application of CVT was in the British Clyno car, introduced in 1923.
A CVT, called Variomatic, was designed and built by Huub van Doorne, co-founder of Van Doorne's Automobiel Fabriek (DAF), in the late 1950s, specifically to produce an automatic transmission for a small, affordable car. The first DAF car using van Doorne's CVT, the DAF 600,was produced in 1958. Van Doorne's patents were later transferred to a company called VDT (Van Doorne Transmissie B.V.) when the passenger car division was sold to Volvo; its CVT was used in the Volvo 340.
In early 1987, Subaru launched the Justy in Tokyo with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission (ECVT) developed by Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns Subaru. In 1989 the Justy became the first production car in the U.S. to offer CVT technology. While the Justy saw only limited success, Subaru continues to use CVT in its keicars to this day, while also supplying it to other manufacturers.
In the summer of 1987 the Ford Fiesta and Fiat Uno became the first mainstream European cars to be equipped with steel-belted CVT (as opposed to the less robust rubber-belted DAF design). This CVT, the Ford CTX was developed by Ford, Van Doorne, and Fiat, with work on the transmission starting in 1976.
The 1992 Nissan March contained Nissan's N-CVT based on the Fuji Heavy Industries ECVT. In the late 1990s, Nissan designed its own CVT that allowed for higher torque and included a torque converter. This gearbox was used in a number of Japanese-market models. Nissan is also the only car maker to bring roller-based CVT to the market in recent years. Their toroidal CVT, named the Extroid, was available in the Japanese market Y34 Nissan Gloria and V35 Skyline GT-8. However, the gearbox was not carried over when the Cedric/Gloria was replaced by the Nissan Fuga in 2004. The Nissan Murano, introduced in 2003, and the Nissan Rogue, introduced in 2007, also use CVT in their automatic transmission models.
After studying pulley-based CVT for years, Honda also introduced their own version on the 1995 Honda Civic VTi. Dubbed Honda Multi Matic, this CVT gearbox accepted higher torque than traditional pulley CVTs, and also includes a torque converter for "creep" action. The CVT is also currently employed in the Honda City ZX that is manufactured in India and Honda City Vario manufactured in Pakistan.
Toyota used a Power Split Transmission (PST) in the 1997 Prius, and all subsequent Toyota and Lexus hybrids sold internationally continue to use the system (marketed under the Hybrid Synergy Drive name). Although sold as a ECVT it is in fact not such a device as the gear ratios are fixed. The PST allows either the electric motor or the internal combustion engine (ICE) or both to propel the vehicle. The response of the complete system (under computer control) is similar in feel to a CVT in that the ICE speed is relatively low and constant under low power or high and constant under high power.
BMW used a belt-drive CVT as an option for the low- and middle-range MINI in 2001, forsaking it only on the supercharged version of the car where the increased torque levels demanded a conventional automatic gearbox. The CVT could also be manually "shifted" if desired with software-simulated shift points.
Ford introduced a chain-driven CVT known as the CFT30 in their 2005 Ford Freestyle, Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego. The transmission was designed in cooperation with German automotive supplier ZF Friedrichshafen and was produced in Batavia, Ohio at Batavia Transmissions LLC (a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company) until March 22, 2007. The Batavia plant also produced the belt-driven CFT23 CVT which went in the Ford Focus C-MAX. Ford also sold Escort and Orion models in Europe with CVTs in the 1980s and 1990s.
Contract agreements were established in 2006 between MTD Products and Torotrak for the first full toroidal system to be manufactured for outdoor power equipment such as jet skis, ski-mobiles and ride-on mowers.
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer model is available with CVT transmission as the automatic transmission. DE and ES models receive a standard CVT with Drive and Low gears; the GTS model is equipped with a standard Drive and also a Sportronic mode that allows the driver to use 6 different preset gear ratios (either with the shifter or steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters).