September 01. 2011
Chrysler to debut its 8-speed transmission
More fuel-efficient, it first appears on 2012 Charger and 300C
Chelsea, Mich.— Chrysler Group LLC says it will introduce an eight-speed automatic transmission this year — the first from a domestic manufacturer.
The new transmission, which is more fuel-efficient than the five-speed and six-speed gearboxes that dominate the market today, will debut on the 2012 Chrysler 300C and Dodge Charger.
Mated to Chrysler's Pentastar V-6, it yields a four-mile-per-gallon increase on the highway, delivering an estimated 31 mpg on the base rear-wheel-drive model, the company said.
City fuel economy increases, too, from 18 mpg to 19 MPG.
"The fuel economy was something that we prized very highly," said Mircea Gradu, vice president and head of transmissions for the Chrysler Group. "It's extremely efficient … it's lighter than the 6-speed version that is in some of the competitive vehicles. It's also more compact."
Product analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics LLP said Chrysler's new transmission is the shape of things to come.
"Transmissions, in a lot of ways, are a sort of an unplumbed area," he said. "It's what you need for the future CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards."
That is particularly true in bigger vehicles like the 300 and Charger, where smaller motors are not an option, Hall said.
"One solution to not going to smaller engines is to add gears to the transmissions," he said.
In addition to saving gasoline, the new transmission creates a more comfortable driving experience, Gradu said.
More gear ratios translate into smaller shift gaps and smoother shifting. It also features a "sport" shift mode for more aggressive performance.
General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are developing their own eight-speed transmissions, Hall said.
Nine-speed transmissions are also in the works.
Luxury brands like Audi, Bentley, BMW, Range Rover and Rolls Royce already offer eight-speed gearboxes.
Chrysler will initially purchase the transmissions from Germany's ZF Friedrichshafen AG, then build them under license at its Kokomo Transmission Plant in Indiana. The shift is expected to occur within a year.
Cars equipped with the new transmission will be in showrooms by Oct. 1. All-wheel-drive versions also will be available.
Chrysler plans to offer the new transmission on other models in the future.
From The Detroit News: Autos Insider | Chrysler to debut its 8-speed transmission | The Detroit News