Nine-speed automatic transmissions are still new, but German manufacturer ZF sees them becoming the future norm in North America.
Jeep’s new Cherokee is the first to offer a nine-speed automatic, to be followed by the Range Rover Evoque. But if ZF has its way, those two will serve as trailblazers for a long list of products to come. The company is investing $600 million to its facility in Gray Court, South Carolina, which marks its largest investment outside its German headquarters. The company aims to build 800,000 of its nine-speed transmissions annually along with 400,000 of its already-implemented eight-speed autos.
“Nine-speeds will more or less dominate the market in the future,” ZF CEO Stefan Sommer told Ward’s Auto.
Current eight-speed customers include Chrysler, Audi, BMW and Jaguar-Land Rover. The company says its eight-speed can yield up to 11 percent fuel savings for longitudinal drivetrains or up to 25 percent for the hybridized version of the transmission.
GALLERY: ZF Nine-Speed Automatic Transmission
[Source: Ward’s Auto]