Report: Heavy Duty Trucks to Get 8-Speed Automatic Transmissions in 2020

2016 ram 5500 dump truck
Ram 5500 HD

What is the future of transmission technology for heavy duty trucks? More gears is the way to go. ZF is currently developing an 8-speed automatic transmission that is meant for Class 5-8 medium duty and semi trucks (up to 57,000 lbs of GCWR). They call it the 8AP Powerline, and it’s coming to a big truck near you in 2020.

The company says that the new 8-speed is an evolution of the 8HP automatic transmission that is currently used in many cars and consumer pickup trucks. It’s in the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Ram 1500, and many other cars.

ZF 8HP transmission

The next 8AP heavy duty version of the transmission will be able to handle engine output of up to 1,000 lb-ft of torque. ZF says the new transmission will offer better fuel efficiency and more quiet and smooth operation. It can also support a “sail” mode where the transmission quickly shifts into neutral when coasting. Start/stop operation is supported as well.

Why not offer this ZF transmission in 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks for consumers? We reached out to ZF for comment.

This 8-speed HD transmission news comes at a time when other manufacturers are also looking to upgrade their transmissions. Ford is reportedly working on a heavy duty version of a 10-speed automatic for the 2020 Ford Super Duty truck lineup. Ford’s transmission code is 10R140, and it’s capable of handling a similar torque input of approximately 1,032 lb-ft.

As time moves forward, we should expect more truck manufacturers to offer more advanced transmissions that offer even better efficiency and driving experience.