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?