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Chrysler is set to become the first U.S.-based automaker to adopt eight-speed automatic transmissions. ZF announced on Wednesday that it has reached an agreement to provide its increasingly widely used 8HP transmission for Chrysler applications. Initially, ZF will build transmissions for Chrysler, but the automaker is also getting a license to produce the transmissions in-house. Chrysler will tool up its Kokomo, IN transmission plant by 2013 to produce the 8HP and at the same time ZF will build

Last year, Lexus became the first automaker to introduce a production eight-speed automatic transmission in the latest LS460. Recently, German transmission manufacturer ZF announced a new eight-speed of its own which is claimed to provide a 14-percent boost in fuel efficiency compared to a five-speed. It looks like Audi and BMW will likely be the first to directly challenge Lexus when they start using the ZF. Audi may be first out of the gate in 2009, with eight-speed installations in the A8, Q7