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Chrysler Will Build New Fuel Efficient 8 Speed Transmission

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On: Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 5:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chrysler Will Build New Fuel Efficient 8 Speed Transmission

As many automotive companies prepare for future government regulations regarding minimum fuel consumption by designing more fuel efficient vehicles, the Chrysler Group plans to spend $300 million to install special equipment in order to build a new eight-speed automatic transmission that will improve fuel economy by up to 25%.

The transmission is licensed by a company called ZF Group, located in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Chrysler announced this week that producing the transmissions in-house will help the company retain over 1,200 jobs at Chrysler’s Kokomo Casting Plant located in Indiana. Official production is scheduled to begin in 2013.

In the meantime, while waiting for future production to ramp up in Kokomo, Chrysler will import transmissions directly from the German manufacturer.

The new transmission is projected to improve gas mileage by 25% by the year 2014, according to spokesperson, Paolo Ferrero, Chrysler senior vice president of powertrain. Chrysler has not yet announced for sure which models the new transmissions would be produced for, but it already exists in some BMW models; in fact, the technology for the ZF six-speed transmission initially made its debut in the BMW Gran Turismo and BMW 760Li.

The modular design of the transmission allows for incorporation into hybrid vehicles, simply by replacing the torque converter with an electric motor, resulting in a fuel economy improvement of approximately 25 percent.

"It is truly an honor to have our 8-speed transmission recognized as one of the industry's best innovations," said Dr. Gerhard Wagner, Member of the Board of Management, ZF Group. "We congratulate the entire development team for their commitment to developing technology that is dynamic, safe, and efficient. We believe this is a watershed product that will usher in the next era of automatic transmissions."

The upgraded 8-speed transmission is actually lighter in weight than the older 6-speed model and improves fuel efficiency by 6% over the older replica.

The 45 RFE rear-wheel transmission is currently being produced by Chrysler at Indiana Plant I for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Dodge Dakota and Ram trucks, and the 68 RFE for the Cummins diesel engine used in Ram Heavy Duty trucks—all vehicles that could be possible candidates for the new gas-saving ZF 8-speed transmission.

According to Scott Garberding, Senior Vice President, and head of Chrysler manufacturing, “The new 8-speed transmission that we'll be producing in Kokomo will transform our future product line.”


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