9-Speed Automatics: Supplier ZF Offers Tips - Dodge Nitro Forum
Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep News Find out the latest scoop here!

 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 07-08-2015, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
Super Moderator
 
rickaren's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Indiana
Posts: 22,847
Garage
Lightbulb 9-Speed Automatics: Supplier ZF Offers Tips

ZF 9-speed automatic transmission for transverse engines

07/08/2015


The arrival of nine-speed automatic transmissions—with some hiccups in tuning—in several mass-market models this past year has led some to wonder whether more speeds is necessarily a step forward.

While the better mileage and stronger acceleration that more speeds can allow, drivability, it seems, has been lacking in some—yet not all—applications of the ‘9HP’ nine-speed automatic, from the German supplier ZF, that was introduced in 2013 and then more widely installed beginning this past year. Complaints about the Cherokee—either before or after an early reflash of the transmission control software—have ranged from harsh shifts to odd shift points for this transmission as it’s installed in the Jeep Cherokee, which was one of the first models to launch with it.

The ZF nine-speed is currently installed in the Cherokee, as well as the Jeep Renegade, Chrysler 200, Ram ProMaster City, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery, Acura TLX, and Acura MDX—and it’s on the way for several more vehicles within the next model year.


Quote:
This past week, as part of a ZF tech day, we got a chance to drive several different vehicles back-to-back, and confirmed our earlier driving impressions: that it isn't entirely the fault of the transmission. The same unit's somewhat softer, more conservative calibration works to the benefit of drivability and smoothness in the Discovery Sport, versus those Jeep models, for instance.

Not properly fleshed out to American driving styles?

ZF officials are acutely aware of the drivability concerns. “First of all, we learned that Americans drive differently,” said CEO Stefan Sommer, as part of a Q&A session. “We need to focus more on the regional-specific perception of how such a complex machine like an automatic transmission is working in the car, and as a consequence we have made a decision to bring more application engineering into the U.S....to be closer to the U.S. customer, to even frontload, in this tuning application work.”

Sommer called the new design of the 9HP “an encouraging new approach” that makes nine-speed technology available in a vehicle segment where it otherwise wouldn’t have been available; yet he noted the unusual arrangement, where ZF did the engineering and automakers oversaw the build (and shift strategy).

The 9HP transmission is indeed a breakthrough product in many ways. One of the most important, perhaps, is that it’s extremely compact; it can fit in essentially the same packaging space as ZF’s six-speed automatic transmission that preceded it, thanks to a number of fresh engineering approaches, such as the incorporation of two special dog clutches.

That new design may have played a part in making the transmission more challenging to tune. So is a design that aims not for gears that are very closely spaced but for a very wide ratio spread—enabling an incredible 9.8 ratio spread for this transmission; that’s about triple that of old three- or four-speed automatics and about 50 percent more than most six-speed automatics or continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs). That means not only quicker takeoffs from a lower first gear, but better mileage on the highway, potentially, from a taller top gear.

Frieder Mohr, an application engineer who’s worked with software and the internal controls for the nine-speed, said that the transmission goes through two levels of ‘adaptation’ to fine-tune its shift quality. One of those is as the transmission properly adjusts its shifts to internal tolerances, both when it’s new and as it wears. The second is adaptation to driving style, which takes just a few minutes and a few shifts through each gear.


The 9HP transmission is indeed a breakthrough product in many ways. One of the most important, perhaps, is that it’s extremely compact; it can fit in essentially the same packaging space as ZF’s six-speed automatic transmission that preceded it, thanks to a number of fresh engineering approaches, such as the incorporation of two special dog clutches.

That new design may have played a part in making the transmission more challenging to tune. So is a design that aims not for gears that are very closely spaced but for a very wide ratio spread—enabling an incredible 9.8 ratio spread for this transmission; that’s about triple that of old three- or four-speed automatics and about 50 percent more than most six-speed automatics or continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs). That means not only quicker takeoffs from a lower first gear, but better mileage on the highway, potentially, from a taller top gear.

Frieder Mohr, an application engineer who’s worked with software and the internal controls for the nine-speed, said that the transmission goes through two levels of ‘adaptation’ to fine-tune its shift quality. One of those is as the transmission properly adjusts its shifts to internal tolerances, both when it’s new and as it wears. The second is adaptation to driving style, which takes just a few minutes and a few shifts through each gear.

Tips that the dealership probably won’t tell you

Mohr gave the following useful tips on how the nine-speed’s software works:

If you’re the gentler driver in the household, a few lumpy shifts are to be expected each time you get in after the more aggressive one. If one driver drives rapidly most or all the time, then it’s possible that the low-speed, low-load shifts won’t work so well, because the transmission will still be assuming the style of the more aggressive driver. It is possible that each time the gentler driver gets into the vehicle, the first few shifts may be firmer, but the software softens shift quality after just a few minutes of driving.

It’s actually important to mix driving styles when the vehicle is new. This is so that the transmission can ‘learn’ each shift over a range of conditions. The transmission could take longer to adapt if driven in a steady continuous way, but shifts should even then become smoother and more predictable over the long run.

That said, ZF isn’t willing to concede that all that we observe as odd drivability traits are related to their choices. When I asked about rough downshifts during a common American maneuver—a gentle rolling ‘stop’ followed by a right turn and moderate acceleration (one that’s a non-event in the Discovery Sport), Mohr deflected to FCA’s choices. “It sounds like what you’re describing there is related not to adaptation but to shift strategy, which is determined by our customer,” he said.

Another engineer said that the supplier has found that Europeans expect partial-throttle downshifts on the highway in some cases—the nine-speed's apparent restlessness between eighth and ninth gear, in the four-cylinder Cherokee, for example—where Americans might judge it to be a flaw.

And that’s really the third component to this—the shift strategy itself. It’s the one aspect that’s not entirely under the ZF’s control, yet the supplier has likely learned a lesson that it should be more proactive.

You can be sure that other automakers are taking note. It might be time for automakers to wrap driving style into the keyfob profiles that are kept for a number of vehicles; that could be an easy remedy for this complexity. With more gears comes an even heavier burden on software and controls, and real-world tweaks.

Yet that hasn’t stopped several automakers—Ford and GM, for example—from working on ten-speeds. The more, the merrier.
SOURCE

Rick

Nitro Year: 2007 (1 of 91,815 sold in 07)
Nitro Model: R/T 4X4 Stone White
CAT-BACK Exhaust, CAI, Projector Head Lamps
Fully-Equipped w/all factory options
rickaren is online now  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

  Dodge Nitro Forum > Dodge Nitro News & Polls > Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep News

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Dodge Nitro Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in











Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
tips to getting rid of a used car PollockJohny Off-Topic Discussion 1 09-07-2013 07:05 PM
10 Tips for Spring Vehicle Maintenance rickaren Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep News 0 03-28-2012 09:43 AM
High Speed/Low Speed Bus dhh3 Audio/ Video/ Navigation / Electronics Discussion 4 06-07-2011 08:16 PM
Seven Tips from Mopar rickaren Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep News 0 03-28-2011 09:45 AM
Chrysler: 8-speed automatics? rickaren Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep News 0 11-26-2009 02:26 PM

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome