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ZF produces a 9 speed gearbox for front wheel drive cars

By Rigval on 21 Jan 2011

Attached Image: zfgb1.jpg

ZF, the German company that is famous for manufacturing automotive transmissions has developed a nine speed automatic gearbox for front wheel drive passenger cars. Yes, NINE forward speeds and it isn't a typo. And we thought seven or eight gears was more than sufficient for most cars. ZF has also stated that this gearbox isn't a prototype as it will be making its first appearance in a US made Chrysler (which is now owned by Fiat) and the nine speeder will be manufactured at ZF's brand new factory in South Carolina, United States.

We've heard Mercedes using their 7 speed G-tronic automatic and Lexus using their eight speeder but now ZF claims that the nine speed gearbox enhances driving performance and also maximizes fuel economy. This compact looking nine speeder is similar to ZF's eight speed automatic gearbox for its rear wheel drive cars in its design and its characteristics. It will select the “right gear” in accordance to the driving conditions and eliminates the need for constant shifting. Of course, this is all down to the gearbox's ECU software and design parameters. If the shifting were done by a human being, it may end up like those people who cannot seem to fathom how to shift gears in an 18 speed mountain bike or how the gears work in the first place. Human beings would be slotting 3rd instead of 7th. It would be impossible to operate efficiently then.

I suppose we are used to think that you don't really need too many gears especially for smaller cars. But ZF are basically saying that a six speed automatic isn't enough for most cars. This nine speeder basically slots in above its six speed gearbox in its list of automatic gearboxes for customers. It is also in the midst of designing a nine speeder with Mercedes Benz for their rear wheel drive cars. Will we see a 21 speed automatic gearbox within the next decade then?

Attached Image: zfgb1.jpg

Industry news, innovation and 1 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

  • 1
Soran Jan 21 2011 06:10 PM
This + paddle shifters = fingers clicking to the max. Even F1 cars dont have so many gears
Rigval Jan 22 2011 11:49 AM
CVT has its drawbacks...it still cannot hold the refinement trump card in a torque converter automatic. note that CVTs usually have that rubber band effect as the transmission works its way up while the engine maintains a high rpm level. It can be pretty irritating in a luxury sedan - this 9 speeder is meant for luxury models at the moment. You're not going to find it in a toyota Passo or anything close to it till costs come down.

And not all manufacturers are willing to pay premium for a CVT like the one in an Audi (or have the soundproofing to match).
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