Nine-speed transmission is the "natural limit", says ZF CEO

ZF nine-speed automatic transmission - 8.6.2011
ZF nine-speed automatic transmission - 8.6.2011

Production starts in 2013.

The nine-speed transmission could represent the end of the battle to add more gears, according to ZF CEO Stefan Sommer.

He described nine speeds as being the “natural limit” taking into account that by adding more gears it will increase complexity and weight that can’t be offset by fuel efficiency gains. In an interview given to Automobilwoche, Sommer said that “there is no hard line, but you have to consider the law of diminishing returns. The question is whether adding even more gears makes sense.”

Three years ago ZF started manufacturing its 8-speed gearbox designed for cars and light trucks powered by longitudinal engines. ZF says that compared to a 6-speed transmission it provides 11 percent improved fuel economy. In 2013 the company will start making a 9-speed gearbox in the United States and they expect sales gains since the Chrysler Group will adopt these gearboxes for high-volume models. This new gearbox will bring a 16 percent increase in fuel efficiency compared to a 6-speed unit.

Despite this "natural limit", in the future we’ll get to see ten-speed gearboxes since Hyundai has already confirmed they are developing one, while GM teamed up with Ford to jointly create 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions.

Source: Automobilwoche via autoweek.com

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Comments (8)

MercLeRoux MercLeRoux
I heard the other day the ZF gearboxes dont have a kickdown function, is that true? If so why?
Nov 9th, 2012 12:06pm
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holmstar holmstar
I wonder how much extra wear occurs in these transmissions due to the near constant shifting. I recently drove a BMW 328i with the 8 speed auto, and it seemed to shift practically every 500 RPMs.
Nov 8th, 2012 7:41pm
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DanaJ DanaJ
"3 blades is the 'Natural Limit', claims Gillete CEO."
Nov 8th, 2012 11:23am
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holmstar holmstar
F#%k Everything, We're Doing Five Blades: http://www.theonion.com/articles/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades,11056/
Nov 8th, 2012 7:35pm
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TomitaBogdan TomitaBogdan
bur we already ahve 20+ gearboxes...big trucks have'em... i'll be waiting for the bmw M3 with a 1.6litre quardturbo 500hp and a lorry 20+ speeds gearbox.... what the hell is this, instead of spending big money for alternative fuel techs to bring down the prices for them, they are still clinging on old ones, with little improvment. "wow" - 5% better than the 8spd
Nov 8th, 2012 11:11am
1 2
I bet in a few years tech or competition will allow a 20 speed gbox.
Nov 8th, 2012 7:29am
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autoficianado autoficianado
GM has been stepping up their tech since 2009 but this is old news
Nov 7th, 2012 9:26pm
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eddie eddie
GM is really trying hard to catch up on its trans tech.
Nov 7th, 2012 8:17pm
1 2