ZF 9HP nine-speed automatic transmission

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.