FRANKFURT - ZF Fried-richshafen is developing a six-speed automatic transmission and expects to produce it in 2001.
The 6HP26 transmission will replace the five-speed automatic that now accounts for 80 percent of the company's automatic-transmission production.
ZF did not disclose its customer for the new automatic.
The German supplier unveiled the gearbox at the Frankfurt auto show, along with a new six-speed manual and a continuously variable transmission.
The six-speed manual will be manufactured at ZF's plant in Brandenburg, Germany, for use in mid-sized and large cars. An all-wheel application is planned.
For smaller front-wheel-drive cars, ZF displayed its continuously variable transmission.
Because it has a near-infinite number of gear ratios, acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is clearly faster with the CVT than with conventional four- or five-speed gearboxes, the company says.
ZF will begin production of its continuously variable transmission at its ZF Batavia LLC joint venture with Ford Motor Co. in Batavia, Ohio. Production is scheduled to begin in 2001.
ZF expects annual output to reach 1 million by 2005. Ford and Fiat are customers, and ZF is confident a German carmaker will join the list soon.
Klaus Bleyer, ZF CEO, says 1999 sales will be $5.5 billion, about the same as last year, despite the spinoff of the group's car steering systems business into a joint venture with Robert Bosch GmbH. In the first eight months, sales in ZF's remaining businesses rose 13 percent.
In the past year, ZF has become much more international. Sales in North America are expected to account for more than 20 percent of the group's total for 1999, partly because of the addition of about $384 million in sales with the Batavia operation.
Growth in North America is expected to continue next year with the start of production of complete front and rear axle modules for the new BMW X5 sport-utility in South Carolina. The axles will be delivered completely calibrated, and will include a brake system.
Through its joint venture with Bosch, ZF this year also entered into steering system ventures with Japanese firms Unisia Jecs and Jidosha Kiki.