This week at the Detroit Auto Show, ZF announced that it's forging forward with plans to produce a nine-speed automatic transmission for front-wheel-drive vehicles. The ZF-developed nine-speed tranny incorporates advanced technology that, aside from enhancing the performance of front-wheel-drive vehicles, will apparently cut down on fuel usage.

ZF claims the nine-speed's technology will help boost the fuel economy because:
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.
The nine-speed auto will be produced at ZF's newly constructed facility located near Greenville, SC. ZF will release applications details for its fuel-saving slushbox at a later date.

[Source: ZF]

PRESS RELEASE

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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