The current Ram Heavy Duty pickups are fantastic, I had a chance to be one of the first to test-drive the Heavy Duty lineup when it was launched and got to drive all of the powertrain options back-to-back. While I personally loved the changes to the updated 4th generation Heavy Duty pickups, a lot of people were disappointed about the return of the Chrysler 68RFE 6-speed automatic transmission for the standard output diesel trucks. Well, there could be a change coming soon.
About a year ago, ZF whom FCA sources a lot of its transmissions through, unveiled its new “PowerLine” transmissions for medium to heavy-duty trucks. The PowerLine 8AT commercial vehicle transmission is an 8-speed automatic designed for commercial vehicles up to 57,000 lbs. According to ZF, this transmission is for applications such as distribution trucks, beverage trucks, rental and leasing fleets, refuse, construction, utility, school buses, and heavy-duty pickup trucks.
We know that ZF worked directly with Cummins and Ram engineers to develop and test the transmission. Thanks to that partnership, the PowerLine can handle up to 1,000 lb.-ft. of engine torque and can push almost 500 lb.-ft. of torque to an engine-driven dual side Power Take-Off (PTO) interface. The fully-integrated transmission control unit features one central electric connector that has programmed adaptive shifting and comfort strategies as well as automatic skip shifting for 30% higher acceleration. With a dual damper lock-up converter, transmission-mounted oil cooler, and impressive weight savings over the traditional 6-speed transmissions, the PowerLine transmission can yield a 10% increase in fuel efficiency while increasing the driveline capacity.
We are hoping to see a version of the PowerLine make its way into the Ram Heavy Duty lineup when the truck gets its next sufficient update in 2023.