What do the Toyota Supra, Rolls-Royce Phantom, Aston Martin Superleggera, and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Aston Martin Vanquish, Audi Q7, Bentley Mulsanne, Jaguar F-Pace, Lamborghini Urus, Range Rover Sport, Rolls-Royce Ghost, and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (among many others) have in common? They’re all fitted with ZF’s 8HP eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
First built and designed by ZF Friedrichshafen, the ZF eight-speed transmission first came out in the BMW-7 Series (F01) 760Li, and has been in all of BMW Series models with rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions ever since. This transmission has sold almost 4 million units since 2017, and by the looks of it, is definitely not stopping soon.
One of its best advantages is its supremacy over the dual-clutch transmission. According to Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, it’s “lighter, cheaper, and quicker than a dual-clutch transmission.”
“Ten years ago, [the dual-clutch] still looked like the transmission of the future. Now it is starting to look like the transmission of the past,” he told Car and Driver.
The ZF eight-speed also allows for better fuel efficiency, since its optimized gear sets minimize drag loss and increase its transmission efficiency.
“This measure alone reduces the speed across all gears by 50 revolutions per minute on average and reduces fuel consumption by almost one percent,” explained Dr. Jürgen Greiner, head of Passenger Car Transmission Development at ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
It also make for excellent shifting, and allows “nested” multiple downshifts so it can respond in a more dynamic manner when it’s needed. It also has lesser “drag torque”, thanks to the additional springs added to its multi-disk separation system. What’s more, its torsional dampers help get rid of vibrations on the engine side.
The end result? A transmission that’s well-balanced and extremely versatile–enough to get almost all the car makers in the world to use it in their most popular models today. The ZF eight-speed can now be used with the all-wheel-drive concepts: all-wheel drive center differential integrated, integrated all-wheel drive system, and hang-on all-wheel-drive.
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