Like the razor companies that just keep adding blades, renowned transmission specialist ZF Friedrichshafen AG has announced the world's first nine-speed automatic transmission.
While many carmakers are touting new six-speed and seven-speed autos, and a few are adopting ZF's eight-speed transmission, progress never takes a break.
The new '9HP' nine-speed automatic has been developed primarily for use in front-wheel-drive cars with transverse engines, although ZF promises easy adaptability for all-wheel-drive and hybrid applications.
The new auto will handle between 270 and 480Nm of torque, while bringing fuel consumption improvements of up to 16 percent over the more common six-speed option.
In an all-wheel-drive configuration, the 9HP offers a rear-wheel disconnect function that can cut power to the rear wheels, producing a five percent fuel consumption saving compared to a traditional full-time all-wheel-drive arrangement.
ZF has yet to announce orders for the 9HP. It can only be a matter of time however before the nine-speed becomes the next bragging point for the likes of Audi and BMW - both already using ZF eight-speed transmissions in a number of models.