More gears equals less fuel use in Chrysler's trademark Jeep Cherokee, as the US automaker will make a nine-speed automatic transmission standard on its 2014 Cherokee.

The transmission, the world's first nine-speed automatic transmission for passenger vehicles with a front-wheel-drive layout, was developed by ZF and will be assembled, along with the rest of the new Cherokee, at Chrysler's plant in Kokomo, IN. Last year, ZF said that nine speeds is the "natural limit" for transmissions, given the law of diminishing returns.

Chrysler says the new Cherokee gets "up to 31 mpg," which is certainly better than the 19 miles per gallon combined that the six-speed, two-wheel-drive 2013 Cherokee gets, per the EPA.

Earlier Wednesday, Chrysler took the wraps off the 2014 Cherokee at the New York Auto Show, complete with a simulation of a "trip" through Moab in the Trailhawk version. The model will have both front- and all-wheel-driver versions ranging from 184 to 271 horsepower and is based on a platform developed by Chrysler's sister company Alfa Romeo. Check out Chrysler's press release below.
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Chrysler Group Partners with ZF to Design and Manufacture Advanced 9-Speed Automatic Transmission Featured in All-New 2014 Jeep Cherokee
  • World's first 9-speed automatic transmission for passenger vehicles with front-transverse design
  • Offers significant greater efficiency than six-speed automatic transmission options
  • Wide gear ratio spread and small gear steps deliver smooth shift quality and performance
  • Chrysler Group plant home to world production debut
NORTHVILLE, Mich. - ZF's new efficient, industry-leading 9-speed automatic transmission design will be featured in Chrysler Group's all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee. It provides a significant fuel efficiency advantage over current six-speed automatic transmissions for front-transverse applications and delivers world-class refinement.

The new transmission has a compact, modular design and is the world's first 9-speed automatic transmission developed for passenger vehicles with a front-transverse engine layout. Its wide, gear ratio spread of 9.81 over the nine stages enables smaller gear steps, offering greater ride comfort and ensuring that the engine always runs in the most economical speed range. Consequently, the 9 speed features contribute to reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

"ZF is pleased to partner with Chrysler Group to develop and produce our new 9-speed automatic transmission for the all-new Jeep Cherokee," said Dr. Gerhard Wagner, Member of the Board of Management responsible for the Powertrain Technology division at ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

The first site in the world to see production of the innovative transmission will be Chrysler Group's manufacturing complex in Kokomo, Ind. Output will be dedicated to the 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

"Chrysler Group's collaboration with ZF allows the company to feature the 9 speed in an all-American brand, whose long-standing reputation as an all-terrain, time-tested brand will showcase the 9 speed as a transmission that is equally as dynamic and durable," Dr. Wagner added.

The 2014 Jeep Cherokee makes its world debut at the 2013 New York International Auto Show.

Groundbreaking packaging

Packaging the 9 speed within the limited space of a front-transverse powertrain layout required a groundbreaking solution: four separate gearsets and six shifting elements in a unique nesting arrangement, instead of the conventional longitudinal placement of the gearsets behind one another.

The package size and overall weight of the 9 speed are comparable to conventional six-speed arrangements for transverse layouts. Its all-new design concept is supported by efficient, hydraulically operated constant-mesh elements, designed to ensure performance and refinement within the compact dimensions.

Direct multiple gearshifts are also possible with the 9 speed and contribute to its sporty character. Shifting points and shifting dynamics are highly variable, from greater comfort and optimized fuel economy to aggressive performance. This enables vehicle manufacturers to tailor the "feel" of the transmission in almost infinite ways.

ZF is a leading worldwide automotive supplier for Driveline and Chassis Technology with 121 production companies in 27 countries. In 2012, the Group will achieve a sales figure of roughly EUR 17.4 billion with approximately 75 000 employees. ZF is among the top 10 companies on the ranking list of the largest automotive suppliers worldwide.

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