Ram Goes from Four To Eight (Speeds)

Gary S. Vasilash

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.

2013 Ram 1500

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.

ZF eight-speed transmission

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.”

2013 Ram 1500

Even pickups are being packed with advanced powertrain technology.

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