Ram Goes from Four To Eight (Speeds)

If you want to get a sense of how competitive it is in the powertrain space, consider what’s happened to the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck.

If you want to get a sense of how competitive it is in the powertrain space, consider what’s happened to the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck.

The previous model was available with a four-speed transmission. Those who are getting the 2013 with a Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 under the hood will also be getting a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.

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That’s right: an eight-speed automatic. Standard with the V6.

And those who opt for the 5.7-liter HEMI can also get the eight-speed “TorqueFlite” transmission, as well.

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According to Dr. Gerhard Wagner, ZF board member and head of its Powertrain Technology Div., this is “the first-ever eight-speed-equipped full-size truck.” ZF has been building eight-speeds since the summer of 2009, and has produced well over a million of them since that time, so they know more than a little something about the implementation of the transmissions.

One interesting feature of the truck—and the transmission—is that it offers stop-start technology. So to accommodate the restart, they developed a hydraulic impulse oil storage unit that supplies the oil that the transmission needs for a smooth restart.

Another interesting transmission-related aspect is that the 2013 Ram 1500 doesn’t have a column or floor shifter. Rather, there is a rotary knob on the dashboard that is said to be beneficial for “quick blind-shift transitions from ‘Reverse’ to ‘Drive’ when towing or navigating out of mud, snow or busy parking lots.”

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Even pickups are being packed with advanced powertrain technology.

The 2013 Ram 1500 will become available in the third quarter of this year.