Ushering a new level of efficient technology into the automotive industry, Chrysler will begin selling cars with eight- and nine-speed transmissions by the first half of 2013.
Until very recently, cars with eight-speed automatic transmissions were generally found in luxury brands like Audi and BMW, but Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is betting that the better transmissions can work to improve fuel economy in its cars enough to compete with hybrids.
Should the strategy pay off, Chrysler will clean up by skipping the high costs associated with developing hybrid technology which generally sells in small numbers.
The nine-speed transmissions are being developed in partnership with German company ZF Friedrichshafen AG which says that the system will help boost efficiency in vehicles like the Grand Caravan as much as 16 percent.
There’s a good chance Marchionne’s strategy will pay off given that consumers will benefit from small changes in the 2013 lineup that will carry big benefits. Most importantly, it won’t mean a shift in what buyers can choose from in the lineup, which will allow brand loyalty to continue and maybe even improve.
Boosted sales in the 2011 Chrysler 300 after the automaker introduced an eight speed transmission are probably the strongest indicator of how consumers are likely to respond to the broad improvements in line for the coming model year.