ZF developed nine-speed transmission is coming

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.

Marking a first for front-wheel drive passenger vehicles, the ZF nine-speed will help automakers generate greater fuel-economy gains while also providing a smoother driving experience. The shift times are said to be quite short and the resulting gear changes are nearly imperceptible to passengers.

The nine-speed automatic will be produced in a brand-new manufacturing facility located near Greenville, South Carolina, and there's talk that one of its first homes will be under the hood of something from Chrysler.

[Source: ZF]
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ZF Develops 9-Speed Automatic Transmission for Passenger Cars

-- The world's first 9-speed automatic passenger car transmission for front-drive vehicles.

-- Significant improvements in fuel economy expected.

-- To be built at a new facility near Greenville, S.C.

DETROIT, Jan. 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- ZF has developed the world's first 9-speed automatic transmission for vehicles equipped with a transversely mounted engine. It will be built in a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility near Greenville, South Carolina.

"Already a leader in technically advanced, fuel-saving multi-speed transmissions for rear-drive vehicles, ZF's new 9-speed enables significant fuel economy improvements and delivers excellent performance characteristics for front-wheel-drive vehicles," said Hans-Georg Harter, ZF's President and CEO.

Groundbreaking for the new South Carolina factory takes place next month. Production and application details will be released later.

Fuel economy and increased performance

Compared to conventional 6-speed automatic transmissions for front-drive platforms, ZF's new 9-speed automatic transmission enhances driving performance and fuel economy. An advanced shock absorber system in the torque converter, for example, allows rapid lock up of the converter clutch, enabling greater fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Similar to ZF's 8-speed automatic transmission used in rear-drive platforms, the new 9-speed delivers extremely short response and shifting times that are below the threshold of perception. That means double shifts and direct multiple gearshifts occur without the driver or passenger noticing.

Sophisticated electronic controls select the right gear for the driving conditions, eliminating unnecessary "stepping" – or constant shifting. In this regard, the 9-speed carries the same precise, sporty attributes found in ZF's transmissions for rear-drive vehicles, including excellent shift characteristics, immediate response to input and exceptional smoothness.

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