BMW will offer an eight-speed automatic transmission in 2009, according to industry sources cited by Automotive News and consultancy CSM Worldwide. The transmission is being developed by ZF.
It will make its debut in the next-generation 7-series sedan. It will help BMW compete with the Lexus LS460, which has an eight-speed gearbox. The new IS-F sports saloon also uses the transmission.
Lexus developed its transmission in response to Mercedes' seven-speed auto, which was launched in late 2003. In 2001, the first six-speed automatic made its debut in the BMW 7-series.
BMW isn't the only car maker getting on the eight-speed bandwagon. General Motors is expected to market an eight-speed automatic, as evidenced by trademark filings uncovered in September. The transmission will likely be used by Cadillac, and possibly Buick.