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The Vienna Motor Symposium is where automakers and suppliers gather annually to discuss topics like new engines and powertrains, fuels, emissions and coming legislation. During last year's gathering Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn said his in-house engineers were working on a ten-speed DSG transmission. This year in Vienna the topic was picked up again by brand development head Hans-Jakob Neusser, who divulged a few details on the new shifter but not when we would see it.

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Did your favorite brand just move to six-speed automatics? Are you already cruising along happily in seventh gear or perhaps you're enjoying the scenery with your transmission lazily churning in eighth. Well move over because ZF is getting ready to produce a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

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Once the Chevrolet Cruze goes on sale this fall, an even dozen models from the Bowtie Brand will be equipped with six-speed automatic transmissions. Adding more ratios to transmissions offers automakers more flexibility in tuning engines for better efficiency. More ratios also allow the engineers to use a wider total ratio spread so that top gears can be setup for lower engine speeds while still maintaining driveability.

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Click above for a high-res gallery of the 2009 Audi A4

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Like every other automaker that intends to do business in the U.S., Hyundai is planning for the future and the proposed fuel economy standards that are expected to hit in 2015. Currently, Hyundai's passenger cars average 32.4 mpg, while its trucks average 25.5 mpg. When the new regulations are in place, those numbers will have to increase to 37.5 mpg and 31.0 mpg, respectively. Hyundai's approach involves two separate strategies that will work together to achieve those figures.

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While many high-end autos are boasting seven or even eight gears in their transmissions, mainstream vehicles often are saddled with units including only half that many. The lack of mechanical gear ratios is rather detrimental to fuel economy, so we're happy to see that Ford is launching more six-speed units for both front- and rear-wheel-drive applications. The new 2009 F-150 will feature a six-speed, and considering the huge sales numbers of that vehicle, the 4 to 6 percent improvement in fuel

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The 308, one of the toughest competitors in the European compact hatchback market, is getting some improvements that increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

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In an effort to keep up with the foreign competition, while at the same time offering consumers more ratios than they can shake their stick at, General Motors has made a pledge to invest $332 million into its Toledo, Ohio plant.

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Automotive News is reporting that the next-gen Ford F-150 will get a six-speed transmission (Note: '07 model shown). Whether or not it will be standard equipment is unknown at this time, but look for it to be available one way or another. It's worth noting that the new Toyota Tundra has an available six-speed as well, so it seems like a natural choice for Ford to offer one, as well. In addition to simply matching up with Toyota, the additional fuel economy the extra gears offer shouldn't be igno

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click above image to view high-resolution gallery, now with 17 live shots

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General Motors upped this week's total investment in its new six-speed automatics to $500 million with Thursday's announcement that it was investing over $330 million in an upgrade to its Warren, Michigan plant, which will produce compact FWD and AWD models of the new transmission.

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Announcing Tuesday a $170 million investment in GM Powertrain's Ypsilanti Transmission Operations and its satellite vendors and support infrastructure, General Motors made a strong commitment to its new family of six-speed automatic transmissions. The new investment follows the more than $450 million invested in the six-speed development and in the Ypsilanti plant.

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