CVTs and dual-clutch gearboxes may have been donning the most recent vehicle models of Honda, but that does not mean that conventional automatic transmission is already a thing of the past. Honda will and is still using automatic gearboxes to transmit power from the engine to the wheels. Automotive News reported in late 2011 that Honda was planning to unveil an eight- or nine-speed automatic transmission in the near future.
However, a person privy to the program revealed that Honda will employ the new nine-speed transverse automatic transmission developed by German powertrain supplier ZF. The nine-speed transverse automatic transmission is also the same gearbox to be used on Chrysler Group vehicles over the next two years.
Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne first hinted at employing the gearbox in late 2010. Years later, the same transmission will be connecting the engine to the wheels of the replacement for the Jeep Liberty, as suggested by UAW officials at the Chrysler’s factory in Toledo, Ohio. The gear, which ZF dubbed as 9HP, is designed for transverse installations, making it suitable for front- and all-wheel-drive platforms.
The main difference and a the big advantage that the 9HP has over Honda’s existing automatic gearboxes is that the ZF gearbox employs nine planetary gearsets to save space, with the gearbox having measurements of 20.5 inches in width, 16.6 inches in height, and 14.5 inches in depth. According to ZF, the 9HP transmission could handle up to 354 lb-ft of torque, and can support both start/stop and hybrid drive systems.
The transmission has a total gearing spread of (9.84:1), and boasts of taller gear ratios in the upper range, which the ZF says play a big part in improving fuel economy by 10-16%. ZF said an engine connected to the 9HP just needs to run at around 1900 rpm to thrust a vehicle at 75 mph. Honda will likely adopt the 9HP by 2014 at the earliest.