New nine-speed 'box cuts fuel consumption by 16 per cent over standard six-speed auto

German transmission specialist ZF has launched the world’s first nine-speed automatic gearbox for passenger cars.

The gearbox has been designed for front-wheel drive cars with transverse engines and can handle between 200lb ft and 353lb ft of torque.

ZF claims the gearbox offers fuel economy improvements of up to 16 per cent over a typical six-speed auto’ equipped in a FWD transverse car. This is partly due to the engine running at 1900rpm at 75mph with the nine-speeder instead of 2600rpm in the six-speed.

Read more on Mercedes' nine-speed auto in development

The firm says “extremely small gear steps can be realised thanks to nine speeds” and this has “a positive effect on driving comfort” as the car is always running in its optimal speed range.

The gearbox can also be adapted to work with all-wheel drive and hybrid models.

ZF has yet to say when the gearbox will feature on a production car.

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