German engineering company ZF has developed the world's first nine-speed gearbox for front-wheel drive passenger cars.
The new 'box will be produced in a brand-new manufacturing facility located in South Carolina and could make its first appearance in a Chrysler model.
Next to its current six-speed auto' for front-wheel drive cars, the nine-speeder "enhances driving performance and fuel economy". As with the company’s eight-speed automatic gearbox for rear-wheel drive vehicles, the new nine-speed variant "delivers extremely short response and shifting times that are below the threshold of perception".
ZF says the 'box selects the right gear for the driving conditions and eliminates the need for constant shifting. These "sporty attributes" - including "excellent shift characteristics, immediate response to input and exceptional smoothness" - are shared with its eight-speed offering, ZF claims.
Mercedes is also developing a nine-speed gearbox but this will be used for its rear-drive cars with large capacity engines.