Honda may be out to improve the fuel economy of its powertrains by throwing extra gears into the transmission. Automobile Magazine reports the Japanese automaker is currently working to use a new nine-speed gearbox developed by ZF in its products as soon as 2014. If you're keeping track, this is the same transmission set to debut in a host of Chrysler products, including the replacement for the Jeep Liberty.

Despite the additional gears, ZF says the transmission is surprisingly compact, thanks in part to the fact that it uses planetary gears in place of a traditional design. Called the 9HP, the German transmission can be used in either front- or all-wheel drive applications and handle up to 354 pound-feet of torque.

All told, ZF claims the 9HP can improve a vehicle's fuel economy as much as 10 to 16 percent. Given the torque capacities and relatively small size, the transmission could show up in nearly everything Honda makes, but odds are the company will debut the gearbox in models like the Odyssey and Pilot as well as the Acura MDX and TL.


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  • 44 Comments
      Tom
      • 2 Years Ago
      So, if the title poses a question, it seems the answer is "No." Honda is not working on a nine-speed transmission. ZF is doing that, and Honda is trying to decide whether to use it. Silly Autoblog and their silly headlines that completely misstate the story...
        Georg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Tom
        thats what I thought on a other news blog they claimed ZF is developing a transmission that Honda perhaps use in the Odyseey.. ZF developer Honda customer buying a finished product... autoblog headlines are many times completely missleading
      gary
      • 2 Years Ago
      Where's the point of diminishing returns for a passenger car transmission? At what point does the cost and complexity become a negative that outweighs the tangible benefits, and more gears become more gears for more gears' sake? This is starting to resemble a scene from Spinal Tap: "But our transmission goes to 11!"
      Seph
      • 2 Years Ago
      you requested for six, and they've answered with nine.. but honestly, haven't they already claimed that they're on a mission to build a 1st sporty and reliable CVT? Well maybe, this one will only be available in US markets, since americans will reject anything CVT..
        Danaon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Seph
        CVTs are just a flawed design. Steel belt running on edge on steel conical gears is just a reliability disaster waiting to happen. That's why CVTs cost over $1000 to replace the steel belt every 100k miles. That's why GM only ever used them once. You might as well put that extra engineering effort into building a better conventional automatic or DCT, because CVTs will not ever be worthwhile until we get a cheap, incredibly strong material that's suitable to replace the steel belt.
          xder345
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Danaon
          Naaah, they're not so bad. Nissan's got a bunch of them running, as well as Ford in the Freestyle (sourced from ZF, by the way). Service them every 60k by changing fluids and filters and you'll bf fine. Using GM as an engineering strategy exemplar is quite foolish.
          redgpgtp97
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Danaon
          Uuhm, if the're so bad why has nissan basically use them in most of their cars nowadays? I think they have mastered the technology.
      Klinkster
      • 2 Years Ago
      This whole "n speed" transmission race is beginning to feel a lot like the "n speed" transmission race that erupted during the early 80's with bicycles. First there was 1 speed...then 10-speeds, then 16-speeds, then 21-speeds...after that, no one really cared. I suspect anything more than a 6-speed automotive transmission will ultimately be met with an "meh".
      kylen20
      • 2 Years Ago
      just as ZF did with the 8 spd RWD platform transmission they are doing with the FWD 9 spd unit. It seems you will be the odd man out if you make card and dont use a ZF
      KO
      • 2 Years Ago
      Huh, so after 40 years, Honda may actually cave on this.
      mjsunkiter
      • 2 Years Ago
      If a lot of cars use the box, it just gets cheaper to replace in the future. I dive my cars until the wheels fall off.
      barkeep
      • 2 Years Ago
      When I was a kid, I thought a 6-speed transmission meant that whenever a car is equipped with such, it means it's a very fast car (like Formula 1 fast, or fast as a Corvette). Now, as a grown up, 6-speed transmissions are so common, I found them to be adequate. 7-speed transmissions I find they're more for performance cars. With 8-speed transmissions, I find it ridiculous. It's one too many gears, and too redundant. A great example would be the Chrysler 300C, or the Lexus IS F. Now with this announcement of the 9-speed transmission by Honda via ZF, I'd say "get the f*** out of town!" This is what happens when CVT haters want to stick with automatics, or stay with manual transmissions. /my2cents
      torqued
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm actually sad to see automatic transmissions overtake manuals in fuel efficiency. It makes sense and it was only a matter of time, but it's just one more reason for manufacturers to stop offering a manuals.
        James
        • 2 Years Ago
        @torqued
        Actually, it doesn't make sense to me. A manual transmission is a direct mechanical link to the wheels, whereas automatics utilize a viscous coupling that by its nature reduces kinetic transmission to the wheels and increases waste heat in the transmission oil. ... Although in modern automatics this effect is small due to well designed internal plate structure to minimize this waste period. Why keep increasing the gears in an automatic transmission in lieu of moving to a CVT? At some point, the period of wasted energy during shifting (decoupled state) will lead to a net decrease in efficiency as number of shift points increase ... whereas a CVT is always coupled and has continuous ratios across a meaningful range. Does the elasticity of the CVT result in an overall deficit in energy transfer to the wheels?
          • 2 Years Ago
          @James
          [blocked]
          jz78817
          • 2 Years Ago
          @James
          the losses in a modern automatic are pretty low; and what remains is offset by having more forward gear ratios. That means the engine can have a narrower, more efficient powerband.
      ihatemacs9
      • 2 Years Ago
      my bicycle has 18 speeds
      billfrombuckhead
      • 2 Years Ago
      Chrysler leads the way. Get used to it!
        guyverfanboy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @billfrombuckhead
        How are they leading the way? There are several other automaker's using ZF's new transmissions!
        jonnybimmer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @billfrombuckhead
        Chrysler didn't do anything more but attach a tranny that German automakers have been using years before already. The correct statement would be: ZF leads the way. Line up to buy one!
        • 2 Years Ago
        @billfrombuckhead
        [blocked]
        Klinkster
        • 2 Years Ago
        @billfrombuckhead
        Chrysler: leading the way with lowest quality, lowest reliability, lowest residuals, lowest customer satisfaction. That's what I call 'winning'...
      donnieorama
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would have thought the 9HP would offer greater mileage increases than 10 to 16 percent.
        RJC
        • 2 Years Ago
        @donnieorama
        Trying to rewrite the laws of physics?
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