CHICAGO -- American Honda Motor Co. will expand its use of a nine-speed automatic transmission from ZF Friedrichshafen AG, offering it in high-end models of the redesigned 2016 Honda Pilot arriving this summer.
The automaker previously introduced the same transmission on the Acura TLX and Acura MDX.
ZF has marketed the transmission as a leg up for fuel economy improvements on front- and all-wheel-drive vehicles, and the nine-speed is used on Jeep Cherokee, Range Rover Evoque and other vehicles. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials said last month that they were making software improvements to address some complaints about the transmission's performance.
Jeff Conrad, Honda Division general manager, said at the Chicago Auto Show that the higher trim packages of the next-generation Pilot will get the more refined transmission. Other trim levels will retain Honda's five-speed automatic.
He declined to forecast what share of Pilot sales might receive the ZF transmission. But he estimated that upper-end trim models account for about 40 percent of current Pilot sales.
ZF produces the nine-speed transmission in a plant in Gray Court, S.C., that it opened in 2013 after investing $600 million.