While other manufacturers continue to develop 10-speed transmissions, Mercedes says it will stick with its nine-speed automatic
8 December 2015

Mercedes does not plan to go beyond nine gears in its automatic gearboxes, a senior engineer has revealed.

Ford and General Motors are among those committed to developing a 10-speed auto. The Volkswagen Group has shelved similar plans.

Mercedes, meanwhile, intends to offer no more than nine gears, according to Marcus Sommer, Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system engineer. He said the firm has run 81 billion different computer simulations for gearbox scenarios and believes nine speeds work best.

Mercedes’ nine-speed auto is being introduced across the range, including on the new GLS. The GLS 63 AMG still uses the old seven-speed ’box, but the nine-speeder will replace it. The firm has no plans to offer a more potent GLS 65 AMG version, though.

Plug-in hybrid tech will also have to wait until the next-gen GLS, due in 2018, because housing the powertrain from the GLE 500e would require removing the third row of seats.

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8 December 2015
Only 9?

Car manufacturers do seem to have caught the Gillete razor blade disease when it comes to the number of speeds!

17 December 2015
Mikey C wrote:

Only 9?

Car manufacturers do seem to have caught the Gillette razor blade disease when it comes to the number of speeds!

That's it exactly. It's a disease, a form of OCD where they just have to outdo each other on the numbers, regardless of whether it's truly better or not. I agree with Moparman, also, that six is the maximum necessary, in fact probably five for most cars, but they'll keep putting in more anyway.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left


8 December 2015
About five gears, then six gears. If Ford and GM successfully market their 10-speed boxes expect everyone else to follow. Anything more than six gears is entirely superfluous and means that the manufacturer cannot be bothered with providing proper ratios for the driver. The gains in efficiency, if true, are minimum at the expense of additional and unwanted complexity.

8 December 2015
Why indeed do cars have to have so many ratios? I haven't driven one with such a quota but it must feel odd with that many gears being constantly juggled. Engines, especially turbos, are being tuned to provide ever widening spreads of torque, and now we are seeing hybrids with electric motors providing extra "twist" when needed. Surely there is a strong argument for a reduction. Such a far cry from GM's Powerglide autobox from the 60s which only had two ratios! Comment has already been made about unnecessary cost and complication. Audi had a rather good and efficient CVT; why can't that be made to provide stepped ratios? The parts count would be substantially reduced.

8 December 2015
I guess you can charge more. If this many gears were really required then we would see much more customising of today's boxes and a bespoke set of ratios for every models engine/ body shape, not just, maybe, a different final drive ratio ?

9 December 2015
to three speeds and no synchromesh on first like pre-Anglia Fords. Maybe not the weird vacuum controlled wipers that went like crazy when stopped but crawled across the screen when you were driving fast though.

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