2011 NAIAS: ZF launches 9-speed transmission

Auto Shows | January 13th, 2011 by 15
2011 01 11 ZF 9HP front quer IMG 8 750x500

At the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, ZF announced their latest and greatest transmission, a 9-speed automatic gearbox. The 9-speed concept was introduced for the first …

At the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, ZF announced their latest and greatest transmission, a 9-speed automatic gearbox. The 9-speed concept was introduced for the first time at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show and it is scheduled to go into production this year at the Greenville factory in South Carolina. Our own Hugo Becker will have a detailed report on this in the upcoming days, covering the technology and engineering behind this new gearbox.

For now, here is the press release from ZF:

Under high pressure – ZF is working on the development of new fuel-efficient transmission generations. The latest innovation: an entirely new automatic passenger car transmission, developed with 9 gears for vehicles with a transverse engine.

2011 01 11 ZF 9HP front quer IMG 8 655x490Already at the IAA 2009 (International Motor Show) in Frankfurt, Germany, ZF presented a concept study for front-transverse transmissions which has entered serial development now. Approximately 80 percent of all passenger cars worldwide feature a transverse engine installation. ZF is developing a state-of-the-art automatic transmission for this type of engine installation, which will significantly improve fuel economy. All around the world, new customer segments will be conquered with this transmission. Transmission production has been scheduled for Greenville, SC, USA.

Fuel economy and increased performance

With its 9-speed automatic transmission for vehicles with transverse installed engines, ZF will once again establish a benchmark in terms of fuel consumption. Compared to today’s standard 6-speed automatic transmissions for front-transverse design, ZF’s new 9-speed automatic transmission clearly improves both driving performance and fuel economy. The modern shock absorber systems in the torque converter, which make a rapid lock-up of the converter clutch possible, also mean better fuel economy and lower COâ‚‚emissions.

Just like the 8-speed automatic transmission for longitudinal installation, the new 9-speed front-transverse transmission ensures that the extremely short response and shifting times are clearly below the threshold of perception. This means that double shifts and direct multiple gearshifts are also made possible. Thus, the new transmission system is equipped with the same ‘sporty genes’ as already its 8-speed automatic transmission predecessors; in conjunction with the excellent shift comfort characteristics, they certainly entail ultimate customer satisfaction.

[Source: ZF ]

15 responses to “2011 NAIAS: ZF launches 9-speed transmission”

  1. X5SoB says:

    This would be a perfect transmission for the upcoming front wheel drive BMWs. As long as they offer a manual 6 speed as well, of course. Pure speculation, of course…

  2. Daniel Hoang says:

    No thanks gears change every 10-15 mph is just too much

    • Tom says:

      Agree. Got a chance to drive 8-speed 5 series and while the shifts were smooth and effortless, the transmission kept shifting at very low RPMs.

  3. Tavi says:

    This is just another useless invention trying to fool potential buyers that more is better, in this case saying more gears is better.

    The whole point of a transmissions and it gears is to couple the limited set of RPMs a piston engine can produce and it’s associated torque with the required RPMs of the wheels, which is actually the speed of the car from zero to whatever.

    Until somewhat recently a piston (otto) engine powerband and torque was limited so the useful powerband was not available until it hits a certain RPM window. So because of this, a “device” called transmission was invented so the available RPMs and powerband from the engine could be coupled to the wheels. That’s why electric motors don’t need a transmission since torque is available from 1 RPM to a really high number of RPMs compared to a gas engine.

    On race cars you need many gears because the maximum powerband is quite small so you need to change gears quite often to extract the maximum amount of power from the engine.

    With modern stock engines and specially turbo ones like BMWs N54 and N55 the power band is quite ample so you don’t need that many gears. A better and simple candidate for a better transmission is a CVT or Continuously Variable Transmission found is some cars like Nissan’s Altima and some others (CVT are an old invention BTW….)

    CVTs do not have gears like a traditional transmission do, is just a continuous coupling between the engine and wheels/differential. To make my point….

    “CVTs were banned from Formula 1 in 1994 because they were making the cars too fast. More recently, CVT systems have been developed for go-karts and have proven to increase performance and engine life expectancy.”


    So there you go…. No need for traditional transmission with 9 gears… This is again marketing over engineering….

    • Jag says:

      the problem is that CVTs cannot handle high torque

      • Tavi says:

        Maybe that’s true for old CVTs but nowadays they’re used on a lot of machinery including harvesters. Check the wikipedia link I posted…

        I’m sure some bright mechanical engineers can make it work for a high performance car like BMWs, is just a matter of changing some established paradigms and get above the marketing BS.

        • Carcasm says:

          The problem with CVT in general is the rubbery feel associated with them, that’s why Nissan keep the Infiniti clean of them.

          • Doug says:

            I’m sure that’s the speed of the mechanism (ie, pulley-width adjuster). I don’t think any have been designed for sports cars. They ought to make the car feel like it has an infinite power band.

  4. pimeto says:

    Do BMW make their own transmissions ?

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