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Up to now Honda has usually developed its own gearboxes - traditionally the most challenging of all automotive components - but that may be about to change.

Rumours floating around the cybergarage suggest that Honda may adopt a nine-speed automatic transmission for its bigger models such as the Odyssey van and Pilot SUV, perhaps as early as 2014 - but that the 'box will be supplied by German transmission specialists ZF.

According to ZF, what we're talking about is the 9HP gearbox, a heavy-duty transverse unit that can cope with as much as 480Nm and is also compatible with idle stop as well as hybrid drive systems.


The big deal is apparently that it's a lot more compact than anything Honda has yet built, thanks to the use of planetary gearsets; ZF says it's only 520mm wide, 420mm high and 370mm deep.

But here's where it gets really interesting - the transmission will apparently be built at ZF's South Carolina plant because it was originally developed for a new Jeep that will replace the Liberty in 2013.

Seems the automotive world is becoming more incestuous every day; perhaps the time is coming when cars the world over, regardless of badging, will use the same engines and drive trains, the way they share batteries and spark plugs today.