ZF Announce New 8-Speed Automatic Transmission 

ZF has announced that it is launching a new 8-speed automatic transmission for medium-duty vehicles in North America. 

ZF’s existing 8-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles already has a proven track record. It has been on the market for 12 years and has sold more than 15 million units.

Now the German transmission giant has revealed plans for a new PowerLine – a fully automatic 8-speed transmission for medium-duty commercial vehicles. The launch is set for an unnamed major OEM in 2021.  

Made to be compact and strong, the ZF PowerLine provides best in class power-to-weight ratio. The increments between gears are so small as to make the shifts barely perceptible. The gear spread also enables up to 30% faster acceleration compared to conventional 6-speed transmissions. 

“ZF’s PowerLine proves equal, but in most cases, higher efficiency than other transmissions with 9 and 10 speeds. With fewer moving parts and less weight than the competition, ZF PowerLine ensures an extended life and reduced maintenance for best-in-class TCO. PowerLine will set the benchmark standard for torque converter automatic transmissions in the North American commercial vehicle market,” said Christian Feldhaus, head of truck and van driveline technology North America for ZF.

The transmission’s high torque engine-driven PTO interface on both sides makes it the perfect solution for truck applications including delivery trucks, ploughs, tows, refuse trucks and other commercial vehicles including buses. 

ZF made the announcement at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, where the technology company also promised to address big industry challenges including emissions, efficiency, costs and safety. 

A company spokesperson said that the efficient PowerLine would provide a stepping stone to the zero-emissions future.  

“As we look to the future, we must be able to offer customers zero-emissions driving solutions, and PowerLine has an eye toward emissions-free trucks, as it will be hybrid-ready upon production, with a future version compatible with electric drive,” they said. 

Another issue facing the haulage industry in North America and around the globe is a lack of skilled drivers. 

ZF Director of ADAS & Autonomy described commercial vehicles as a Goldie Locks scenario for automation, the place where things are just right.

“There’s more concentrated commercial vehicle activity and fewer specific use cases that are more simply automated. And by that I mean, just some rough statistics, two-thirds of our vehicles spend more than 95% of their time going straight down the highway at the speed limit, maintaining their lane,” he said.   

To further cement its position as a leader in commercial vehicle automation, ZF is developing new camera, radar and sensor systems to support its new advanced driver-assistance systems. 

“These new cameras and radar sensors will have a longer range, they’ll have a wider field of view, they’ll have higher resolution,” Williams said. “All of these things taken together will allow them to do any number of things, probably most significantly, they’ll allow us to do a better job of protecting pedestrians, local road users and other stationery and semi-stationary objects. It will be a big step for us in 2020 when these next-generation sensors come out.”

Ecodrive Transmissions is an authorised ZF DriveCentre, providing a UK-wide ZF commercial vehicle transmission and driveline support service. Speak to a member of the team to find out more about our on-site service support, transmission and axle removal and refit service and gearbox repairs and overhauls. Call: 01204 701 812.