ZF has kicked off production of its PowerLine 8-speed automatic transmissions at its Gray Court, South Carolina, manufacturing facility. As part of a $200 million investment announced in 2021, ZF will begin ramping production to 200,000 transmissions annually by next year to satisfy demand from U.S. commercial vehicle manufacturers.
Nearly 50,000-square-feet of the 1,687,000-square-foot Gray Court manufacturing facility is now dedicated to PowerLine production for the North American commercial vehicle market.
Designed for Class 5-8 commercial vehicles, ZF PowerLine uses a patented 8-speed gear layout, with gear ratios stepped to deliver increased torque at launch and higher top gear for improved fuel economy. These gear ranges use intelligent software to help further improve shift quality, safety, acceleration and performance.
PowerLine offers fuel savings of up to 10% in certain applications, according to ZF, and may promote enhanced acceleration performance compared to transmissions across the four vehicle classes it serves. ZF PowerLine features include Autopark, ensuring the park lock is engaged even if the driver forgets to select the park position or set the parking brake; Hill Hold, which prevents rollback when launching from a stop on an incline; and Shift-by-Wire, with integrated stalk shift selector enhancing ergonomics and improving maneuverability.
ZF is pumping $500 million into its Gray Court plant, adding 400 new jobs as it prepares for 8HP Gen4 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) transmission production, already in use on the BMW 7 Series and X5. Electric motors are integrated into the transmission housing of the ZF 8HP Gen4, enabling pure electric driving performance of up to 160 kilowatts and a torque of 450 Nm – almost double the previous 8-speed generation.