Noted transmission specialist ZF used its appearance at the Detroit Auto Show to present a new nine-speed automatic designed especially for use in passenger cars with transversely mounted engines and front-wheel-drive configurations. ZF says its new state-of-the-art shifter will be a cost-solution that delivers significant improvements to both performance and fuel economy. Given that nearly 80 percent of all cars produced today fit the "transverse/front-drive" profile, any relative mileage gains will also be accompanied by a similar decrease in CO2 emissions produced.
Like the existing ZF 8HP eight-speed automatic currently used by BMW and soon by Chrysler in longitudinal/rear-drive applications, this new nine-speed transverse trans owes a good deal of its operating efficiency to a special shock absorber system in the torque converter that facilitates super-quick lockup times. Sophisticated electronic controls also help it select the correct cog for any given situation to prevent unnecessary "gear hunting" and ensure it delivers faster overall response and serves up exceptionally smooth changes that are "below the threshold of perception." ZF says this new transmission also is designed to execute multiple downshifts when called for, which endows it with an even sportier character.
While not linking any specific automakers names to its new nine-speed transmission, ZF did confirm the unit would be manufactured at a new facility that will be built in Greenville, South Carolina, with production slated to being in 2012.