Honda has always been innovated in every aspect of car design. They were the first car to put a satellite navigation system into one of their cars, in this case an Acura Legend from 1990. In 2000 the Honda Insight was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid car, so you won’t be surprised to read that Honda has also led the way with transmissions.
When the Japanese car maker entered the American market they were faced with a choice between working with an established firm like BorgWarner, who along with other similar firms held a wide array of patents, or produce their own system. Honda chose to go its own way and produced the Hondamatic.
How Hondamatic differed
Honda’s auto transmissions didn’t use planetary gears like those on nearly all other makers at the time. The Hondamatic, and the gearboxes that followed it, all use individual gears like a manual transmission. Each gear was engaged by an hydraulic clutch. This system was very new and innovative but the technology didn’t last into the 1980s. By that time a more conventional set up was used.
Today, Honda automobiles are available with automatic and manual transmissions. Some models like the Honda Accord Sedan Sport are available with a constantly variable transmission. A CVT gearbox creates seamless changes between gears and it enables the car to run at the optimum RPM for the speed it’s going. In the case of the Accord Sport the CVT ‘box maximizes the car’s performance by keeping it at the RPM at which it produces its peak power. In a smaller car it could be used to aid fuel economy.