As we reported last month, it appears BMW and Audi, following the lead of Lexus, will begin to offer eight-speed automatic transmissions in their flagship models. Sources are now saying the transmission will be supplied by ZF Friedrichshafen, a familiar German supplier to both marques. Although we don't know all of the specifics, Audi is expected to debut the new slushbox in the range-topping A8 sedan, Q7 SUV, and their future A7 premium model. BMW will likely debut the new gearbox in their premium 7-Series sedan and the X6 Sport Activity Vehicle, according to company sources.
The current Audi A8 and BMW 7-Series both use six-speed automatics. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class utilizes a seven-speed automatic of their own design, while Lexus debuted their eight-speed transmission in the LS 460. Increasing the number of forward gears offers advantages in smoothness, acceleration, and improves fuel efficiency. Lower fuel consumption equates to reduced emissions, helping the powerful models meet increasingly stringent air quality standards in Europe and the United States.
[Source: Automotive News, subs. req'd]