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ZF shows off 9-speed

zf nine speed automatic transmission for Chrysler and Dodge cars and minivansZF showed off their nine-speed automatic (9HP) to German magazine Autozeitung, using a Mini Cooper S mule. Three automakers have already agreed to purchase the 9HP, one being Chrysler, and one almost certainly being another traditional ZF customer, BMW. The magazine pointed out that the 9HP is extremely compact — it has to be, to fit into a Mini — and that ZF had worked hard on breaking back into the front wheel drive market, with its eye on the efficient double-clutch transmissions which have been increasing in popularity.

The transmission, to be used in future Chrysler front wheel drive products starting around 2013, weighs under 190 lb, including the transmission fluid; the decision to use nine speeds was, according to the magazine, based on a detailed cost-benefit analysis rather than merely trumping eight-speeds.

The compact size was achieved partly by moving the oil pump, changing two of the switching elements from the usual couplings to new forms. The transmission can go up to 480 Nm input (around 354 lb-ft) which is more than enough for the most capable four-cylinder or V6 engines ever produced by Chrysler, and then some.

The magazine seemed happy with the feel and operation of the transmission. (Thanks, K. Oellinger; see more ZF HP9 details.)

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