• Jun 10th 2010 at 2:01PM
  • 41
Chrysler eight-speed automatic transmission – click above to watch the video

Chrysler has announced that it will begin fitting an eight-speed transmission to select models for the 2013 model year. The ZF Group-sourced slushbox will be built at Team Pentastar's Kokomo, Indiana transmission plant thanks to a $300 million investment by the parent company. That cash commitment secures the 1,200 jobs currently working at the plant.

Eight-speed transmissions provide considerable fuel economy improvements compared to an automatic with five or six forward speeds. Chrysler isn't divulging which products will receive the new transmission, but Wards speculates that the upcoming eight-speed tranny makes the most sense in Chrysler's rear-drive LX platform vehicles like the 300 and Charger. That makes sense to us considering the fact that Chrysler will need to improve fuel economy considerably to meet stringent new EPA standards of 35 miles per gallon by 2016.

Senior Powertrain VP Paolo Ferraro says that the new transmission "will offer our customers refinement and comfort while achieving greater fuel economy and performance." Chrysler plans to improve its overall fuel economy by 25 percent by 2014. For comparison's sake, the ZF-sourced eight-speed transmission used in the BMW 760i is said to improve the big Bimmer's fuel economy by six percent. Learn more by checking out the official video and press release after the jump.

[Sources: Chrysler, Wards Automotive]

Show full PR text
Chrysler Group LLC to Invest $300 Million to Modernize Indiana Plants for New Fuel-Efficient Eight-speed Automatic Transmission
June 9, 2010 , Auburn Hills, Mich.

Chrysler Group LLC will invest $300 million into the Company's existing transmission manufacturing facilities in Kokomo, Ind., to accommodate a new highly fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic transmission for future Chrysler Group vehicles.

The largest investment in the U.S. since the new Company was formed in June 2009 was aided by the approval of a tax abatement from the city of Kokomo. The investment will fund the installation of equipment and special tooling to modernize Indiana Transmission Plant I and the Kokomo Casting Plant. The project will extend the life of both manufacturing facilities and help retain nearly 1,200 jobs.

Chrysler Group has licensed the manufacturing rights from Friedrichshafen, Germany-based ZF Group to build the new eight-speed beginning in 2013. Included in this agreement is the purchase of transmissions manufactured by ZF.

"The new eight-speed transmission that we'll be producing in Kokomo will transform our future product line, but equally important, ensures the future viability of our Kokomo facilities and our dedicated workforce," said Scott Garberding, Senior Vice President and Head of Manufacturing, Chrysler Group LLC. "The support demonstrated by General Holiefield, Vice President and Director of the UAW Chrysler Department, and the entire UAW for World Class Manufacturing is one of the primary reasons we continue to make significant investments in our Indiana facilities."

"In addition, the State of Indiana and Governor Mitch Daniels, the City of Kokomo and Mayor Greg Goodnight as well as Congressman Joe Donnelly, Congressman Dan Burton and the rest of the Indiana Congressional delegation have been valued partners as Chrysler Group works to bring the most technologically advanced and fuel efficient vehicles to market. This investment would not be possible without their continued support," said Garberding.

"It's heartening to see the local unions and employees in Indiana embrace the principles of WCM and, as a result, see the company continue to make significant investments in both new technology and the Kokomo facilities," said General Holiefield, Vice President and Director of the UAW Chrysler Department. "This action will give Chrysler a head-start on a new transmission and will help secure the future for Chrysler UAW-represented employees."

The new transmission will contribute to an overall fuel economy improvement across the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep® and Ram Truck product lineup. More sophisticated and efficient than traditional five- and six-speed automatic transmissions, the new eight-speed is proof of Chrysler Group's commitment to fuel economy.

"The new eight-speed automatic transmission will offer our customers refinement and comfort while achieving greater fuel economy and performance," said Paolo Ferrero, Senior Vice President-Powertrain, Chrysler Group LLC. "We look forward to integrating the new transmission into future Chrysler Group products and welcome its contribution to a corporate fuel economy improvement of more than 25 percent by 2014."

Chrysler Group Powertrain engineers benchmarked the industry's leading automatic transmissions to set functional goals. After working closely with ZF, the result is a seamless shifting eight-speed transmission without sacrifice. Specific product information and timing for the new transmission will come at a later date.

Earlier this month, Chrysler Group announced that it would invest $43 million in new equipment and tooling to expand its operations in Kokomo to support production of the World Engine and improve processes for the 62TE transmission program. In December 2009, the Company announced that it would invest $179 million in its Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance (GEMA) plant in Dundee, Mich., to produce the 1.4-liter, 16-valve Fully Integrated Robotized Engine (FIRE). In May 2007, Chrysler announced a $730 million investment in the Pentastar V-6 engine program, which began production at the all-new Trenton (Mich.) Engine Plant in March 2010-bringing the total powertrain investment to nearly $1.3 billion since 2007.

About Chrysler Group LLC
Chrysler Group LLC, formed in 2009 from a global strategic alliance with Fiat Group, produces Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram Truck, Mopar® and Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) brand vehicles and products. With the resources, technology and worldwide distribution network required to compete on a global scale, the alliance builds on Chrysler's culture of innovation – first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925 – and Fiat's complementary technology – from a company whose heritage dates back to 1899.

Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., Chrysler Group LLC's product lineup features some of the world's most recognizable vehicles, including the Chrysler 300, Jeep Wrangler and Ram Truck. Fiat will contribute world-class technology, platforms and powertrains for small- and medium-sized cars, allowing Chrysler Group to offer an expanded product line including environmentally friendly vehicles.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      If Chrysler is going to seek components externally, how about the 7DT-75 (double clutch from Porsche Panamera) for the Dodge Ram?

      5.97, 3.31, 2.01, 1.37, 1, 0.81, 0.59
      • 5 Years Ago
      Automatic transmssions are complicated units and Chrysler trannies are traditionaly below average for reliability. As well eight gears are strictly for luxury vehicles for now and made from the best in the industry. New C/F deserves credit for this serious challenge if they really intend to build them, even in collaboration with ZF.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Mechanically an 8 speed auto is hardly more complex then a 5 or 6 speed. All modern transmissions (including Chryslers's 545RFE 5 speed) use 3 planetary gear sets, 3 planetary gear sets allows for a maximum of 8 different forward speeds. Chryslers 45/545RFE and 68RFE are reliable enough transmission, average with the other big 3's 5 and 6 speeds.

        Their old ancient 4xRF and RE transmission were terrible though, including the FWD variants.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Joseph, I am agree with you on engineering basics. Altough if Chrysler begin production for their mass cars like Charger, 300 and so derivates or Fiat/Lancia rebadged models with this tranny, there will be different story. I personaly do not believe Chrysler can compete with Mercedes/Lexus/BMW/Jag and otherluxury brands who use 8-speed autos in terms longetivity of the product and customer satisfaction.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Come on, do your homework. This 8 speed has been talked about for a very long time over at Allpar.com. It's for ultra heavy duty only, planned for trucks and SRT applications. It can handle 800+ lb ft of torque, so you won't find it in a Caravan.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Greg -

        No offense, but the specific transmission, designed by Chrysler and ZF, is for heavy duty applications only. Check out http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2010/06/chrysler-officially-announces-eight-speed-automatic
        This will be in LX cars, but only the SRT versions. It's too expensive for regular production models.
        The Mercedes 5 speed will be updated to offer 7 speeds, in a year or two.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The ZF box will be rear drive only, as you point out (Chrysler already has a 6sp transaxle, not to mention a Fiat DCT on the horizon), but it won't be limited to trucks and SRT's. This transmission will ultimately replace the Mercedes 5sp across the board.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I guess time will tell Austin. Daimler and Chrysler are not getting along well at the moment, and moving away from co-dependency may be a consideration here. Daimler never wanted Chrysler to have their state of the art transmission when they owned them, why now? Remember the 7sp was already in production when Kokomo was modified for production of the 5sp. Another factor to consider is while the 8sp debuted in the 760, as of the 2011 model year all BMW 5, X5 and 7 Series cars will use it, as it is both more efficient and weighs less than the 6sp it replaces. Fiat management is moving quite quickly right now and perhaps even Allpar can't keep up.

        If this never comes to pass of course, my mea culpa will be forthcoming.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If Daimler was going to let Chrysler use the 7g-tronic, they would have already.

        They could have used it in Jeeps/Trucks/SUVs as a 'multi-speed 6 speed automatic' 1-6 in tow/haul, 2-7 otherwise. R1 & R2 respectively

        Hell D-B could have given Chrysler their little used 6 speed automatic (the SL370 had it)
        4.46, 2.61, 1.72, 1.25, 1, 0.84, Reverse 4.06.
        contrast against the craptastic no ratio 5 speed auto
        3.588, 2.186, 1.405, 1, 0.83 Reverse 3.16
      • 5 Years Ago
      8-speed in the 2011 Charger and 300C is unlikely. That said, the same 5-speed will be very disappointing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Can someone help me understand how important an 8 speed really is? I know a lot are moving to them, but compared to my normal automatic does it really make a difference?

      And for that matter, isn't a CVT even better? Why stop at 8 gear ratios?

      This might sound novice, but it kinda reminds me of HP wars....Or a prick waving contest.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm not an expert either but I guess the more gears a transmission gets, the closer it can get to a CVT theoretically. And more gears does not always mean close-ratio but "longer" gears can be added further to already existing overdrive gears, which means better cruising fuel economy.

        The biggest benefit of a CVT transmission is that the transmission can change its gear ratio while leaving the rpm constant(constant rpm could mean rpm at lowest fuel consumption, or during hard acceleration, the rpm that makes peak torque/hp). However, valvetrain of engines have evolved so much that this main benefit of CVT doesn't stand out as much as before, and at the same time conventional transmissions are getting lighter and smaller, making more space for more gears.

        Furthermore, CVT has low torque-handling ability(for belt-pulley type), has wear/heat problems, and accelerating with constant rpm feels wierd too.

        I guess transmission war is at its peak, but who knows?
        • 5 Years Ago
        as fuel economy regs get tighter, one thing that is likely to happen is that engines' will get more efficient at the expense of having a narrower powerband. the more forward gear ratios you have, the more effectively you can keep the engine in that narrow powerband, the better the overall economy will be.

        CVTs excel at this, as was mentioned, their main limitation is the torque capacity of existing designs.
        • 5 Years Ago
        UberSil, you are wrong in saying double clutch transmissions give up durability for shift speed.
        Firstly they transition gears, they don't shift gear.
        Secondly the torque limitation is based upon the clutch pack assembly. Compare/contrast the Bugatti Veyron and VW Gti.
        Gears and bearing are as durable as you design them to be.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Engine, sometime referred to as powerplants, take the stored chemical energy in liquid fuel and turn it into useful work.
        The output of the engine consists of torque and speed, and to make that useful work useable, a transmission is interposed between the drivetrain.
        The transmission takes the torque and speed input, and outputs a different torque and speed, power in-power out (hopefully very efficiently, like 95%)

        So, the maximum range of speed conversion is the ratio spread (lowest gear to highest gear)
        You can have a wide ratio spread with few gears (GM's 4 speed automatic 4.4:1), you can have a narrow ratio spread with many gear (F1 has roughly 2:1 with 7 gears)

        The double clutch transmission in the Porsche Panamera is the winner for ratio spread 10 to 1! (but only has 7 gears)
        8 forward gears is the most, until someone makes a 9 speed automatic.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Incremental gains. Automakers need an extra 5-10% better fuel economy wherever they can get it.

        My guess as to why one would go with an 8 speed over a CVT is that automakers and transmission design firms are very good at putting a bunch of gears in a case and swapping between them.

        CVTs are a whole different species of engineering, what with either bands or planetary setups.
        • 5 Years Ago
        CVTs are substantially better ... in theory. In practice, most of the inexpensive designs are limited in the amount of power that they can transfer (although this is being solved by both more powerful simple transmission designs and lower costs - something like a Toroidal CVT can handle a lot of power, and is actually very simple, but not built in the mass quantities that conventional automatics are). Also, people aren't used to the sound or the feel yet, so even though they can provide better performance and economy, they tend to be less-liked than "normal" complex automatics.
        • 5 Years Ago
        A CVT is more efficient,since it provides "unlimited ratios". However, current CVT have a limited drive ratio spread. There was an article in Autoblog, can't seem to find it, where a company was adding a component that would increase the spread ration of the cvt. Also, current CVT have relatively lower power limits (200 hp/lb of torque is "low" these days).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Typically a CVT is a better choice in your standard low end car because it allows the engine to remain at it's most efficient speed while the transmission does all the work of increasing the speed of your car by way of decreasing the ratio. However just like it was noted above, CVT's typically have low durability in regard to power transmission. The Nissan dual toroidal CVT can handle about 250 lb*ft of torque. While CVT's can handle a fairly larger amount of power than that, their cost sky rockets. Typically you only find high durability CVT's in things like military helicopters.

        With that said.

        The more gears in your transmission the less durable it typically is, bar the Dual Clutch Transmission which also gives up durability for shift speed. However the more gears you have the closer the ratio you can apply to the gear set and the closer you can keep your engine in that optimum band of operation.

        Interestingly enough the best DCT that has public statistics can only handle about 500 lb*ft of torque (Getrag's seven gear rear-wheel transaxle Powershift transmission) while the transmission they mention in the article can handle 750 - 1000 Nm (750 Nm = 500 lb*ft) as published on ZF's website.

        With that level of durability I can also see the Challenger being able to handle this transmission and possibly the Viper when it's successor/next variant returns, provided it's not boosted in power.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The sad part is, most of the fleets already are in line with the 35mpg standard because it has built in mechanisms to game it. As in, flex fuel designations allow for some serious bogus numbers divorced from reality
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is there a reason why the average transmission doesn't have a super tall 5th (or 6th, 7th, 8th) gear? It would only be used at highway cruising speeds and would have a huge impact on highway MPG. The step between the last and second to last gear would a bit clunky, but it seems worth the price.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Boxes like the Toyota 6speeds are set up that way. The Nissan Trucks have gearing that makes them gurgle around to no end.
        • 5 Years Ago
        To the Germans, it would be antithetical to the autobahn experience.
        The gap between gears is supposed to decrease with higher gears.

        Tim, you are missing the overall gearing.
        Something like the Honda Accord, with a big 3.5 liter V6 can pull 40mph per 1K engine rpm, but the volume Accord seller, with 2.4 liter I4 wouldn't. 33mph per 1K would be appropriate. We will see when/if the Accord gets a 6 speed auto.

        Honda already had big jumps with its 5 speed automatic.
        Honda upgraded the 1999 Acura TL (4 speed auto) for 2000 model year.
        Top gear for '99 was less than 30mph per 1K, top gear for '00 was 35mph per.
        4th gear was 25mph per.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I can vouch that the 6spd auto in a 3.6L Malibu has just such a tall 6th gear and it's somewhat annoying. Sure the engine turns quite low RPM's on the hwy but if you need any acceleration, you have to stab deeply at the throttle to get the transmission to kick down. In the eyes of the transmission(and the EPA) the higher the gear the car is in, the better, and the transmission isn't too willing to relent.

        That said, leaving it in cruise control tends to alleviate it a bit since it seems more willing to shift and it drops down to 5th gear somewhat often whenever a slight grade is reached. Otherwise, the car(not owned by me) is a nice drive and achieves good economy considering it's a decently-powered V6 and not a 4cyl.

        I can't vouch for the 6spd when connected to the 4cyl though as my experience with them was limited to a single rental Malibu I had for a few short days. I'm not even sure if that rental had the 6spd or not, it was a last summer.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think that one reason for now super tall final gears is that EPA fuel economy testing is done at Legal highway speeds, and normal 5th or 6th gear is fine for that.

        For example my 5 speed manual Impreza spins at 2200 RPM at 60 mph which is fine for fuel economy, but at 80 mph the tach is at 3800 rpm which kills FE.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The Impreza needs a 6th gear sooo bad.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bravo. The right move that many will follow. They should try to get it in sooner.

      It sounds like the Germany supplier has the product now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Wards article leaves open the possibility that Chrysler could begin importing the ZF box before the Kokomo plant comes online... The sooner the better!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Improved the BMW's fuel economy by 6%, eh? That means that prior to its current 8-speed's incredible 15mpg combined rating, it would have been at 14mpg combined. Any bit helps, but I'm not sure I'd call that "considerable fuel economy improvements."
        • 5 Years Ago
        Using the same number means nothing, Jim - it's apples to oranges. Let me ask, would you pay 6% more on that BMW for that 6% increase in fuel economy? Keep in mind that would be about $8k for a .9mpg increase. Would a 6% increase in your wages cover that?

        Regardless, my original point was that I'd hardly call that a "considerable" fuel economy improvement.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Would you turn down a 6% raise? I didn't think so.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Remember, the 760 went from a 6sp to the 8sp. Chrysler will move up from a 5sp and economy should improve by 14%. There are no magic bullets, it's all incremental from here on in.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Using the same number means nothing, Jim - it's apples to oranges. Let me ask, would you pay 6% more on that BMW for that 6% increase in fuel economy? Keep in mind that would be about $8k for a .9mpg increase. Would a 6% increase in your wages cover that?

        Regardless, my original point was that I'd hardly call that a "considerable" fuel economy improvement.
      • 5 Years Ago
      they better get on this considering a lot of their cars still have 4 speeds
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