A new type of transmission to be made in Kokomo will save up to 16 percent more on fuel costs than six-speed transmissions, according to the company that designed the engine part.

ZF Friedrichshafen AG, which is based in Friedrichshafen, Germany, has for the first time released details about the nine-speed automatic transmission it developed.

The German engineering company and Chrysler Group had released few specifics about the transmission since November, when Chrysler announced it would invest $843 million in Kokomo to produce the car part.

ZF says the transmission, dubbed the 9HP, will allow for better fuel economy and smoother driving as it shifts gears.

Among the transmission’s features, ZF boasts, vehicles with nine speeds will run at lower revolutions per minute than older transmission models. A nine-speed vehicle driving about 75 mph will run at 1,900 rpm while a six-speed engine will be about 2,600 rpm at the same speed, ZF says.

Neither Chrysler nor ZF has announced what vehicles will have the 9HP.

Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said Monday the automaker did not have a publicly released timeline for when production of the 9HP would begin in Kokomo.

Rich Boruff, president of United Auto Workers Local 685 in Kokomo, expected Chrysler to begin installing new production equipment in May 2012.

Chrysler has said the shift to the 9HP would preserve about 2,250 jobs in Kokomo, roughly half the people the company employs at its four plants in the city.

Indiana Transmission Plant I off U.S. 31 in northern Kokomo will produce the new transmissions, Boruff said.

Before the 9HPs begin coming out of Kokomo, Chrysler plans to begin producing eight-speed transmissions, called 8HPs, at the Kokomo Transmission Plant. As with the nine speeds, ZF engineered and licensed production rights for the 8HP to Chrysler.

Fuel economy for vehicles with the eight-speed transmissions average 11 percent better than with 6HPs, which are ZF’s six-speed transmissions.

Chrysler will introduce the eight-speed transmission in the 2012 Chrysler 300S. There have been no announcements about any other vehicles having the transmissions in the future.

The 8HP already has appeared in BMWs, Audis, Bentleys and Rolls-Royces.

Both new transmissions, investments for both of which will total almost $1.3 billion, will require training for workers, but nothing beyond what is routine, Tinson said.

The 9HP will be the larger focus for Chrysler.

About 800,000 of the transmissions will come out of Kokomo every year once the new equipment is fully operational, Boruff said.

Chrysler will produce about 150,000 of the 8HPs, he said.

• Daniel Human is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. He can be reached at 765-454-8570 or at daniel.human@kokomotribune.com.

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