It wasn't too long ago that something as premium as a Honda CR-V had a four-speed automatic gearbox. The Maruti Suzuki A-Star and Hyundai i10 still offer four-speed 'boxes. However, in the search for better performance and lower emissions, the automatic gearbox has been adding more and more speeds for a while.
First off the block was Mercedes with its 7-Gtronic, which, as its name suggests, is a seven-speed automatic. Lexus responded with the world's first eight-speed 'box. That has now become the default choice in premium cars thanks to ZF's eight-speed automatic. ZF said that it would be highly unlikely that we'd see any more speeds, because their gearbox was already very close to ideal efficiency with a decent balance of performance and minimal losses.
But the recent updates suggest otherwise. Land Rover debuted their new nine-speed AT last month, while Merc will offer a similar setup with the all-new S-Class in May. GM and Ford have announced that they are together working on both nine-speed and ten-speed transmissions to power their front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars respectively.
And now Volkswagen has announced that they are developing a new 10-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic that will drive variety of cars of the group companies. The head of Volkswagen group, Dr Martin Winterkornm, also confirmed that the VW is also working on new high-performance diesel engine as part of its target to bring down CO2 emissions of their lineup to 95g/km by 2020.