DETROIT--Chrysler Group says its new eight-speed automatic transmission will be the first offered on domestically produced automobiles and will boost fuel economy and cut emissions of the company's two full-sized, rear-drive sedans.
The transmission initially will be available on 2012 Chrysler 300s and Dodge Chargers powered by Chrysler's 292-hp Pentastar V-6 engine, the automaker said today in a statement. The cars are being assembled and will start arriving in dealerships by Oct. 1, according to Chrysler spokesman Vince Muniga.
Chrysler will charge a $1,000 premium for cars with the new transmission. An entry-level Chrysler 300 with the eight-speed will be priced at $28,995 and the Dodge Charger SE will be priced at $27,320. Both prices include destination. Both cars will be available with a five-speed for $1,000 less.
Estimated highway fuel economy for the two cars will rise 15 percent, to 31 mpg, Chrysler said. Estimated city fuel economy will rise to 19 mpg, a 5 percent increase over 2011 versions of the cars, which came with a five-speed automatic.
Chrysler and Dodge also will offer eight-speed, all-wheel-drive versions of the 300 and the Charger. The cars will be offered with paddle shifters on the V-6 and V-8 models.
Chrysler is licensing the eight-speed transmission from German supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG, which produces eight-speeds for luxury brands including Audi, Bentley, BMW, Range Rover, and Rolls-Royce. The transmission initially is being imported from ZF in Germany. Chrysler will begin making the eight-speed next year in Kokomo, Ind.
Chrysler is trying to leapfrog its domestic competition by offering an eight-speed, which is set up for rear-drive configurations with longitudinally mounted engines.
The company also is working to combine the eight-speed with the Pentastar V-6 in the Ram 1500 full-sized pickup. Other candidates for the transmission include the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Chrysler also is working with ZF to develop a nine-speed automatic for front-drive vehicles with transverse-mounted engines. That gearbox should be available in 2013 and could be used in Chrysler's two minivans, midsize cars, and crossovers such as the Dodge Journey.
Even though it has three more gears than the five-speed, the new transmission is only 6.6 pounds heavier.
The transmission, called the 845RE, has a technology called "adaptive shifting," which takes into account a number of variables to achieve more efficient performance. Because there are more gears, the ratios are more closely spaced, meaning the shifts are less perceptible.
(Source: Automotive News)