Striving for improved fuel economy, we already knew that Chrysler will begin using a nine-speed automatic transmission in some of its new products this year, but what we haven't known is that volume at which this gearbox will be used. According to Bloomberg, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been quoted as saying that the automaker expects to sell close to 200,000 units equipped with this new transmission in 2013. Those gear-rich trannies will be spread out across three models, consisting of the redesigned Chrysler 200, the still-unnamed Jeep Liberty replacement and the Dodge Dart.

This transmission should play a pivotal role in making Chrysler vehicles more competitive in their respective segments. Just for comparison, one of the Dart's key competitors, the Toyota Corolla, still uses a four-speed automatic, and a previous report indicates that the next-generation 200 could get up to 38 miles per gallon on the highway, which is better than most non-hybrid midsize sedans on the market. Marchionne says that the new Jeep model is expected during the second quarter of this year, but there is no word as to when the new 200 or nine-speed Dart will debut, but clearly Dodge would like to have the transmission in its compact yesterday. As for that volume figure, it definitely doesn't seem out of reach since the Dart, Liberty and 200 combined for a total of more than 225,000 units in 2012.

How many more gears can we expect in future cars? Probably not many more, since the CEO of transmission-builder ZF, Stefan Sommer, previously stated that nine speeds was the "natural limit" for transmissions.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      alistair.dillingham
      • 2 Years Ago
      Nine speed autos are ridiculously redundant for most vehicles, but above all for the slow, underpowered, insignificant Dart, which is already fuel efficient. Nine speed autos are justified for large 8 vehicles at autobahn speed, so they can cruise efficiently and with high MPG even at 120 and 150 MPH. When a tiny car has a much narrower speed range on US speed limit roads, why does it need NINE? It can do the job with MAX MPG even with 6, at most 7 gears!
        Varcity
        • 2 Years Ago
        @alistair.dillingham
        Do you realize that these cars will be sold outside of the U.S. also. Nine speeds are not redundant, ZF engineers have said that nine speeds is about the limit, and more speeds after that won't yield any benefits.
        alistair.dillingham
        • 2 Years Ago
        @alistair.dillingham
        WHO ARE THE 5 DAMNED FOOLS that voted down my 100.00% CORRECT AND ACCURATE POST? MORONS.
        The Wasp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @alistair.dillingham
        Nine speed autos are ridiculously redundant for most vehicles, but above all for the slow, underpowered, insignificant Dart, which is already fuel efficient. Seven speed autos are justified for large 8 vehicles at autobahn speed, so they can cruise efficiently and with high MPG even at 120 and 150 MPH. When a tiny car has a much narrower speed range on US speed limit roads, why does it need SEVEN? It can do the job with MAX MPG even with 4, at most 5 gears! /s
          The Wasp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @The Wasp
          Well...I didn't do that very well. Anyway, what I want to say is that the engineers decided 9 speeds are a reasonable amount. You say 6 or 7 is the logical maximum. I disagree. People used to say 6 was unnecessary. People before that probably say 4 or 5 were just absurd. I'm sure someone 100 years ago thought having 2 speeds was just silliness.
        bouljf
        • 2 Years Ago
        @alistair.dillingham
        If anything smaller engines need more gears to perform at peak power in most situations; torquey engines can get away without shifting most of the time.
      Antonio
      • 2 Years Ago
      edit: FIAT expecting up to 200,000... In an article about Jeeps, and Dodge...don't you think you should get the owner of the Brands correct in the title.
      blasds78
      • 2 Years Ago
      21-speeds or bust! :) Seriously, though... How many is too many?
        alistair.dillingham
        • 2 Years Ago
        @blasds78
        I remember the 90s when, except for exotics, only some Acura Legend model was available with a 6 speed Manual, and it made it very desirable, while when we had to rent, we once got a GOD AWFUL Ford COntour which had a THREE Speed Automatic. TO answer your question, 5 speeds today are too few, six or seven are good,8 are a stretch, necessary only for large V8 flagship models, and nine are probably too many.
          blasds78
          • 2 Years Ago
          @alistair.dillingham
          Just to make sure I understand your point... Do you believe they're unnecessary for smaller motors because you believe the smaller motors are typically driven around town, and thus they'll seldom use the upper gears? (Run-on question.) I liked the Acura I think you're talking about, the 3.2 CL Type S. I thought it was in the 2000s, though.
          alistair.dillingham
          • 2 Years Ago
          @alistair.dillingham
          My points were 100% crystal-clear. I never said that weak HP cars never go on the highway, but that their top speed is way too low to NEED 9 gears, they can be extra efficient with the SIXTH or at most SEVENTH top gear.
      Wm
      • 2 Years Ago
      It is nice to see Chrysler at the forefront in car technology for a change. I don't know if it's Fiat's doing or if they managed this on their own. For many years Chrysler products used older technology, unless it was Mitsubishi or Cummins derived. I don't know if this transmission is a supplier's or internal, but looking at the products coming out of Chrysler, like the new Ram, it is clear they are no longer lagers. Chrysler and Ford are setting the automotive technology pace for American car companies, GM is now the lager. Who would have guessed that 40 years ago?
        Gordon Chen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Wm
        It's nice but honestly all I'd ask of them is work on reliability not being ahead of the curve with features. Having one usually means less of the other. The reason they're able to move ahead faster than other auto makers with things like 9 speed trannies is because they spend less time on reliability studies, which can take tens of thousands of hours.
          Robb Lincoln
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Gordon Chen
          Gordon Chen, ask BMW about the reliability of the ZF 8 then come back and tell us how Chrysler cut corners.
        L14t
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Wm
        I wouldn't call GM lagging since they are bring a diesel cruze in May, as some reports suggest
          The Wasp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @L14t
          They had diesel cars 30 years ago -- that's not saying much.
          Hello, Brian
          • 2 Years Ago
          @L14t
          While I appaud GM's decision to bring diesel cars to the North American market, it is not exactly a new technology. Mercedes introduced it in passenger cars almost 80 years ago.
        Robb Lincoln
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Wm
        Wm, the 2005 Hemi was and the current rendition is cutting edge, the Pentastar is cutting edge and both of those were solely the work of Chrysler.
      Antonio
      • 2 Years Ago
      F I A T is expecting up to 200,000 9-speed transmissions in their Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and other brands.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Antonio
        Your comment was deleted for a reason: it was wrong. I suggest you stop before everyone finds out the depth of your ignorance.
          Antonio
          • 2 Years Ago
          @carguy1701
          Wrong? By all means TROLL. Point out any errors in my post. I challenge you.
      Rob Gomes
      • 2 Years Ago
      9 speed transmissions are for two reasons: 1) CAFE standards. You have to do everything you can to hit those numbers. If you can stay at lower RPMs more often by having more gears, it's easier to get more MPG. 2) NVH. If you are constantly only operating in a narrow band of engine speed, it is MUCH easier to optimize NVH and make the car quieter and with less vibration.
      Vinuuz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good to see Chrysler doing some of the high tech stuff first amongst competition. I think what they lack now is some hybrid/plug in sort of vehicle, which all of their competition has.
        Varcity
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Vinuuz
        "High tech stuff" ? Adding more gears is the easy way to gain (some) efficiency. It's more difficult to engineer more efficient engines, lightening the cars, and improving aero.
          fuzzyfish6
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Varcity
          Work/design smarter, not harder. Good plan. Then again I guess all the new engines Chrysler is putting into their cars and all the aero work they've been doing doesn't matter to you.
          RedRaiderGuy08
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Varcity
          VinuuZ: The new chevy LT motors may be the same displacement but they only share one part from the old LS2 and LS3 motors, so it is not the same engine... More importantly transmissions are one of the few things automakers still outsource, Chevy, Ford, and Chrysler all send specifications and requirements to a third party designer to make their transmission for them. So realistically, everything Chrysler touches is behind, but some of the parts they buy are pretty good... Facts Vinuuz Facts!
          Vinuuz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Varcity
          Then why is, for eg. GM not doing it, if it is so easy? Nor are they making their cars any lighter. They just reworked the Silverado and Corvette with the same v-8 engines. Am just saying that Chrysler has gone from being a dud on all this to a leader. They had the balls to offer a full size pickup with a V-6 and 8 speed tranny and initial public reaction seems to be good.
      Mazdaspeed6
      • 2 Years Ago
      Not to be a debbie downer, but 3 Chryslers went through my household and all 3 had transmission issues and 2 had engine issues, costing thousands. Have things changed? Probably. But stuff like that can't be forgotten just like that.
        whofan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        I hear ya, we have had two minivans over the past 10 years and they`ve been good other than a evaporator coil going bad in the 99. Chrysler had a bad run of transmissions in the mid 90`s Dextron transmission fluid was part of the problem and a gear pin that walked in the tranaxle of the FWD vehicles. wrong dianosis by technicians was part too. Many transmissions were rebuilt when it was a plugged coil pack for the shifting of the transmission. Do not dump Dextron in a Chrysler transmission.
        bouljf
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mazdaspeed6
        I've had the same issues in the past but this 9 speed is built by ZF (they supply Audi, Bentley, BMW, Jaguar and Porsche among others) so I think it should be fine. I'm more worried about brakes which have warped in all Chrysler product I've ever owned (2 Grand Caravans and 3 Journeys)
      Antonio
      • 2 Years Ago
      I laugh at Arianna Huffington deleting the truth about FIAT owning Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, RAM, SRT... Got to keep up the propaganda, can't let the uninformed public know about Obama selling them to FIAT for pennies.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Antonio
        SPOILER: Chrysler Group, LLC is the one purchasing the transmissions from ZF, NOT Fiat.
      Dick Cheney
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reid Bigland said during the NAIAS that the Liberty replacement would indeed be called the Jeep Cherokee. I can still hear the howls echoing from allpar.com
      SamerIraq
      • 2 Years Ago
      Number of cogs doesnt matter like ratios, I was driving 2011 toyota avalon with 6 speed auto, at 62 Mile per hour the rpm was at 2000, now i have genesis which is equipped with bigger engine and 8 speed, so it should rev less at the same speed but it doesnt, it revs around 2300 and it is less efficint compared to the avalon, so the rations including the final ratio is the most important, not the number of gears
        fuzzyfish6
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SamerIraq
        Final drive ratio is only one part of the story, the other ratios will allow the engineers to improve drivability and put the engine in it's most optimal (whether it's for best performance or efficiency) setting regardless of vehicle speed.
        Sean
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SamerIraq
        A higher number of gears allows allows for more flexibility, period. Having a higher number of gears doesn't always make for a better gearbox, as it's application depends on the type of engine and what the vehicle's intentions are.
        Jacari
        • 2 Years Ago
        @SamerIraq
        Does it really spin at 2300 rpm at just 60 mph? This can't be correct. My old 06 Altima SE-R with the 6-spd spins at 2000 at 60. No way.
          SamerIraq
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Jacari
          sorry my mistake, I mean at 120 Kms hour, which is 74 miles per hour
      lasertekk
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've rebuilt many transmissions, both vintage and more modern. This 9-speed, I don't think I'll bother ever attempting a rebuild on down the line.
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