ZF 9-Speed Transmission Is One Gear Away From Drop Handlebars

This week in Detroit, ZF announced a 9-speed transmission for front-wheel-drive cars, saying the new 'box will enhance performance and fuel economy of cars with transversely-mounted engines. One more ratio and we can stick baseball cards in the spokes.

ZF says despite the profusion of gears, changes will be super-quick and drivers will be scarcely able to perceive changes as they occur. A shock-absorption system inside the torque converter for instant lockup of the converter clutch means fewer losses and better fuel economy.

Of course, the effectiveness of the niner—whether or not it'll be stepping all over the place—will rely on the electronic controller doing the gear selecting. ZF says its confident the 9-speed will be as precise, smooth and shifty as its boxes for rear-drive cars, or else it'll send its team of nine-foot-tall female silver surfer technical staff for servicing.