The ZF nine-speed automatic is a wonder — efficient, light, and, well, a nine-speed, designed to work well with hybrids, stop-starts, and all wheel drive. The first units, though, were criticized by many, whether they were put into Jeeps, Hondas, or Land Rovers.

ZF nine speed 9

FCA US may have a solution — replacing one of the internal dog clutches with a traditional clutch. While dog clutches are smaller and more efficient, they are not as smooth, and tend to have a delay as the parts line up. If there is any error and the parts try to come together at the wrong time, the results can be bad.

Some shifts into fourth gear would be eased with the new design, though efficiency would drop — perhaps not noticeably.

If the design has been approved and finalized, and is being tested, it could end up in 2020 cars. Though it sounds like a simple swap, it requires changes to the shafts, rear hubs, rear gear-train, case, and programming.  Story suggested by MJAB.