The fourth-generation Ram Heavy Duty pickups appear to be well-received, and are at least part of the reason that FCA was able to outpace Chevrolet in pickup sales during the 2019 model year. However, the trucks have continued to rely on the aging C8RFE six-speed automatic, even as the competition has moved to 10-speed units. Well, it now appears that a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission is bound for the larger Ram Heavy Duty trucks.
ZF is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world, and a number of your favorite cars over the past few years have utilized their transmissions. Everything from the Lamborghini Urus to the SRT Hellcat products use a ZF-supplied box. The teams at Ram and Cummins have worked in tandem with ZF to create the all-new PowerLine 8AT transmission for commercial applications, almost guaranteeing its use in future Ram models.
According to ZF, the new gearbox is slated for use in distribution trucks, refuse management, construction and utility applications, school buses, and heavy-duty pickup trucks among others. The 8-speed box is rated for vehicles up to 57,000 lbs, and can handle up to 1,000 lb.-ft. of engine torque. It will also bring a number of upgrades over the previous 6-speed as well, including the ability to send 500 lb.-ft. of engine torque to a dual-side PTO system.
Other features of the new ZF 8-speed automatic include adaptive shift mapping, optimized shift comfort, and what ZF describes as automatic powershifting for a 30 percent higher acceleration rate. Thanks to the new dual damper lock-up converter and transmission-mounted oil cooler, the transmission offers notable weight savings over the outgoing unit while offering a 10% increase in fuel efficiency.
While we can’t say for sure at this point when this new ZF 8-speed automatic transmission will make its way into the Ram Heavy Duty lineup, we do expect it to replace the outgoing six-speed backing up the Cummins powertrain options.