A few months ago, we praised the rise of the eight-speed transmission, but respectfully requested that car companies retain the status quo for a while. But those cheeky scamps working for Mercedes-Benz have gone all contrary on us and developed a nine-speed transmission. Called the 9G-Tronic, plans are afoot to drop it into the new-generation S-Class slated for 2012. After that, there should be plenty of other applications. Naturally, it's all about fuel economy and low emissions, but what's interesting is that Mercedes-Benz sees nine gears as the technical limit. At least the company hasn't resorted to the ghastly continuously variable transmission.

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