ZF Friedrichshafen AG has announced to stop
making 6 speed automatic transmissions at the Saarbrücken
plant in Germany after producing 70,50,232
units in a span of 13 years.
According to a company statement, the last unit
of the 6HP rolled off the production line for the British luxury car brand
Jaguar. The transmission will be succeeded by 8HP, (8 speed automatic) which
was launched in 2008, but ZF will continue to produce the 6HP transmission in
the Shanghai plant for the Chinese market.
The 6HP was 13pc lighter, up to 7pc more economical, with significantly reduced
noise levels, and considerably better acceleration values than its predecessor
with 5 gears: These were the benchmark data of the first 6HP generation when it
started rolling off the assembly line at the ZF location in Saarbrücken from
April 2001 onwards – after a development time of only four years. Only a few
months later, the compact automatic transmission premiered at the International
Motor Show installed in a BMW 7 Series sedan with an eight-cylinder engine.
"The demand for this innovative transmission has grown very quickly
and very strongly which enabled us to win more and more customers and conquer
new vehicle segments," said Michael Hankel, Member of the ZF Board of
Management and responsible for Car Powertrain Technology and Car Chassis
Technology. "During peak periods, we produced up to 4,500 units of the 6HP
in a three-shift operation; the annual record lies clearly above one million".
11 variants of the 6HP were used by 16 different car manufacturers for their
SUVs, luxury limousines, mid-sized convertibles and their sports cars which
were always customised for the respective driveline setup and torque
requirements between 230 and 750 Nm for rear- and all-wheel drive.
The 6HP and 8HP have a lot in common. The dimensions are almost
identical, and BMW was again the first customer to order the 8-speed automatic
transmission which has been produced in Saarbrücken since 2008 and in Gray Court,
South Carolina, USA, since 2013. However, regarding technology, the 8HP offers
advantages which go far beyond the two additional gears; these also provide an
explanation why ZF currently produces approximately 8 800 units per day for
automotive manufacturers worldwide. "The first generation was already
designed as a flexible modular system; its weight was reduced, it was capable
of start/stop operation and allowed to reduce fuel consumption by up to 11pc
compared to the 6HP," said Hankel.
With the 8HP full hybrid variant, fuel efficiency was increased by an
additional 25 percent. However, the leader in chassis and driveline technology
is not resting on its laurels: In July 2014, ZF started volume production of
the next 8HP development level. "Thanks to numerous optimisations, the
second generation of the 8HP assists our customers even more effectively in
meeting the increasingly stringent legal CO2 standards – and it does so in a
cost-efficient way as it is combined with standard or hybridised drive
systems," Hankel emphasised