ZF is working on a new eight-speed automatic transmission intended for Class 5-8 medium-duty trucks and semis with a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of up to 57k pounds, based on the same trusty 8HP that can be found in the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Charger SRT Hellcat, Ram 1500, and other models. It’s called the 8AP PowerLine, and according to The Fast Lane Truck, it will be ready for duty in 2020.
The ZF 8AP Powerline will be able to handle as much as 1,000 lb-ft of torque, says the company, while delivering efficient, smooth, and quiet operation. It’ll be lighter than comparable units, ZF says, weighing in at just 150 kg dry, and a “Sail” mode will allow the transmission to shift into Neutral under coasting for superior fuel savings.
ZF doesn’t appear to have any plans to supply the 8AP PowerLine to consumer medium-duty trucks like the Ram 2500 HD and 3500 HD, possibly leaving those trucks with six-speed units, even as rumors swirl that Ford has a heavy-duty ten-speed transmission in the works for its F-Series Super Duty. Eight is just about the optimal number of forward gears, ZF says, the PowerLine offering about the same total spread as concepts with one or two additional gears, but weighing less.
Granted, whether or not the next-generation Ram 2500 and 3500 have ZF’s new 8AP PowerLine to call upon for better fuel efficiency, both trucks might make use of a hybrid system like that found in the new, 2019 Ram 1500 – or perhaps an even more sophisticated one. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said earlier this month that it intends to spend $10.5 billion on electrification between now and 2022, leading to the introduction of 30 new electrified models.