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ZF introduces the first 9-speed automatic transmission

Transmission maker ZF Friedrichshafen AG has unleashed the information on their new 9HP transmission – the first 9-speed automatic transmission – designed specifically for front and all wheel drive applications.

There are no vehicles currently slated to carry the new ZF 9HP 9-speed automatic transmission but the goal during the design process was to produce a transmission that was extremely versatile so that it could apply to as many vehicle applications as possible. The 9HP is designed to be used with a transversely mounted layout which is typical of front wheel drive vehicles but the ZF 9HP can be fitted up to a transfer case for all wheel drive applications or it can be coupled with a hybrid system by replacing the torque convertor with an electric motor. Also, the 9HP can be fitted to engines producing between 200 and 353 lb-ft of torque, which covers a massive collection of vehicles in today’s auto industry.

ZF explains that this new 9-speed automatic transmission is able of improving fuel economy by roughly 16% compared to a modern 6-speed transmission. While cruising in the range of 75mph (120kmh), where a 6-speed transmission would have the engine running in the range of 2,600rpm, the new 9-speed automatic brings the RPMs into the range or 1,900.

What exactly does this amount to? Well, if you consider a vehicle like the 2011 Dodge Avenger that I recently spent time in, which is equipped with a 6-speed automatic transmission and yielded 28mpg over the course of my drive time; an improvement of 16% would bump then mileage over the course of those miles into the range of 32.5mpg.

Helping the 9HP improve fuel economy in all wheel drive applications, the transfer case is fitted with a rear wheel disconnect feature. When in a driving situation that doesn’t require the help of the rear wheels, the electronic transfer case cuts the power to the rear wheels – saving 5% fuel economy over a traditional full-time AWD system. It is also compatible with modern start-stop technology without an additional oil pump so for vehicles that offer start-stop; the ZF 9HP can help improve economy ever further.

ZF hasn’t included any plans for OEM applications but with this fuel saving technology being well publicized, it is only a matter of time before one of the nation’s super-efficient models is fitted with the new 9HP 9-speed automatic transmission.

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