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ZF Develops 9-Speed Auto Transmission For Improved Efficiency

 
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Land Rover Range Rover Evoque fitted with ZF 9HP nine-speed automatic transmission

You probably started driving in a car with three, four, maybe five speeds to choose between.

Manual transmissions led the way for a while with gears--five and six became commonplace, while the average auto might only have had four gears. Since then, an increasing quest for efficiency has seen that number double--or more.

At next week's Geneva Motor Show, Land Rover and transmission company ZF will demonstrate the world's first nine-speed automatic transmission in a production car.

Designed for transverse applications, such as the LR2 and Evoque, the 9-speed auto will replace the current six-speed found in the company's smaller vehicles.

Far from being needless frivolity, an a pure excess of gears, the new nine-speed has some real practical applications--chief among which is increased efficiency.

The extra gears mean an engine can stay in its most efficient operating range more of the time--neither laboring at low revs in higher gears, nor screaming away at higher revs in low gears.

At the same time, it allows engineers to tailor the transmission to a car's needs.

In the case of a vehicle like the LR2, that means a lower ratio first gear than the existing six-speed, enhancing the car's towing and off-road abilities. At the same time, a higher top gear reduces engine revolutions at higher speeds, improving economy and reducing noise. A skip-shift function allows the gearbox to downshift quickly for rapid acceleration.

The new unit is only a little larger yet 16.5 pounds lighter than the current transmission. It will be produced at ZF's Gray Court plant in South Carolina.

Further details and economy figures should be expected at or soon after the Geneva Motor Show--but expect improvements on the Range Rover Evoque's 28 mpg highway figure, and the LR2's existing 24 mpg highway rating.

Now, if we could just convince Land Rover to bring its 2.2-liter diesel engine over from Europe to pair with the new 9-speed...

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Comments (4)
  1. this will allow smaller motors with less HP which should get better millage, a 9 spped will be necessary, the first 6 gears will be needed just to move the vehicle with some sponk.
     
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  2. If this one works like most transmissions that I am familiar with, it is when changing gears that a transmission has some gear overlap and the resulting {very small} efficiency losses. Not knowing the torque capabilities of a CVT, but a CVT seems like a simple, less costly solution to the problem this transmission is designed to address.
     
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  3. But a CVT usually runs out of torque right when you really need it, like when you're merging onto a freeway. They're good transmissions, but traditional gears are just a bit better in the real world
     
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  4. So many moving parts, such a waste of energy. Just go electric and save all that friction. They're just putting off the inevitable switch to something that actually makes sense--EV's.
     
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