Two Germans are to join Lexus on high eight when BMW and Audi opt for a new 8-speed ZF gearbox for their upcoming models.
Power wars aside, car manufacturers from Germany are involved in battles that go beyond simple turbo, displacement, ‘Ring times and 0 – 100 barroom brawls. The new battle is being fought out in the open fields where real people drive real cars and do reported damage to the real earth. Enter ZF, the renowned gearbox maker that provided BMW with the world’s first 6-speed automatic which came, for better or for worse, with the 2001 7 Series. Automotive News reports that ZF is completing an 8-cogger and that Audi and BMW are first in line for orders. According to this piece of news for which Automotive News credits an Audi insider, Audi will fit it into its A7 four-door coupe, Q7 and next A8 while BMW is eyeing it for the next generation 7 Series. Lexus already beat the Germans, including Mercedes-Benz’s 7-speed G-Tronic by introducing its LS 460 straight with an 8-speed ‘box.
Multi-speed transmissions are used to improve fuel consumption in vehicles, thereby emitting fewer emissions on to the atmosphere. This is a fact, although it is puzzling as to why not more automakers are tuning into the realm of CVT which is found in cars like the Nissan Murano, Honda Jazz and Audi products. CVT basically implies a gearbox with an infinite number of gears, effectively negating the need for automakers always trying to outdo each other with higher-numbered gearboxes.
Thomas Wenzel, a spokesman for ZF, would neither confirm nor deny whether Audi and BMW would use its new gearbox.
"We have a very good relationship with a number of automakers who already use our six-speed transmission. Some of those could decide to use our eight-speed technology."
Although an 8-speed could technically be used even by vehicles the size of a Chevrolet Aveo, automakers often opt to fit such transmissions into luxury saloons because of the costs involved in their manufacture. Whether someone else out there is working on a 9-speed or even 10-speed changer will only be disclosed by time.