As a result, the European Union has already set strict fleet target limits for 2030, while legislators in other important automotive markets, such as China, have also imposed stringent requirements. The electric car, which does not cause any emissions locally, is an important strategic element for every one of ZF’s customers. In our capacity as a technology supplier, we have positioned our portfolio accordingly over the last 10 years and offer electric drives for every vehicle category, from subcompact cars to transit buses. However, no one knows exactly how soon battery-powered electric vehicles will penetrate the individual regions and segments. We assume that around 70 percent of all newly licensed cars worldwide in 2030 will still have an internal combustion engine. It is therefore important that we significantly reduce the volume of emissions generated by these vehicles as well.
I believe that the best solution for achieving this goal would be to equip as many vehicles in this fleet as possible with a hybrid drive. There is a wide range of technological options available for this very purpose, ranging from mild 48-volt hybrids to plug-in hybrid drives that allow for completely emission-free driving over short distances. The issue of whether these technologies will be accepted by car buyers depends heavily on the purchase price, which in turn is strongly influenced by how easy it is for the electrical component to be integrated into the entire driveline.
ZF has a solution to this problem: the next and therefore fourth generation of the 8HP automatic transmission. Intended for use in premium-segment vehicles with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the transmission was designed as a hybrid modular construction system right from the outset. It can be used with a maximum power of between 24 and 160 kilowatts by swapping various electric motors and the corresponding power electronics for hybrid drives – or, depending on market demands, entirely without electric components. With the exception of the accumulator, all electric and electronic components are fully integrated into the transmission housing in order to keep the installation effort in the automotive manufacturer‘s assembly factory to an absolute minimum.
The modular construction system affords automotive manufacturers a kind of insurance against market fluctuations. The customer feedback we have received about the fourth-generation 8HP shows that our strategy is on the right track. In the meantime, we have received two major orders for the transmission from BMW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. We still have a great deal to do before the start of production in 2022, from the development all the way through to the production changeover. We have, however, already taken decisive steps in the long journey toward enabling climate-neutral transport.