After BMW, Fiat Chrysler is now also ordering transmissions from ZF for hybrid cars. According to a ZF spokesperson, the sales value of the FCA order is “in the low billion range”.
At a technology presentation in Dresden, ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Schneider did not comment on the exact size of the order, but left the impression that the order was higher than the spokesperson had stated: “It is very large, and not much smaller than BMW.” Together with the BMW order, this marks the largest single order in the company’s history. The total amount is located somewhere in the low double-digit billion range – the supplier from Lake Constance secured an order volume of 15 to 20 billion euros in just a few weeks.
The new transmission is a further development of ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission and can be used both in plug-in hybrids and conventionally powered vehicles with longitudinally mounted engines. BMW uses the drive from the 3-series upwards, the new 1-series with front-wheel drive has a transversely installed engine. At Fiat Chrysler, the ZF transmissions will likely be primarily used in the large US American models. ZF did not want to comment on the division between hybrid and conventional versions at Fiat Chrysler.
ZF is strongly committed to plug-in hybrids when it comes to electrification – after all, the company wants to continue selling complex multi-speed transmissions. “This is a confirmation of our strategy to use plug-in hybrid drives as an everyday solution for the electrification of passenger cars in addition to the pure electric drive and to develop correspondingly attractive products,” said Scheider in April about the BMW order.
But ZF also plans to get more involved with electric cars in the future: At the IAA, the third-largest German supplier plans to present a two-speed transmission for electric cars. In the concept development with a 140 kW engine, the range is said to have been increased by up to five per cent compared to a single-stage solution. It is not yet known how this five percent relates to the costs and technical effort of a transmission.
Previous production EVs usually have a rigid transmission, i.e. a single-speed transmission, which the power and torque are sufficient for. However, at certain speeds the efficiency of the engine can drop slightly – which could be compensated by a multi-gear transmission to keep the engine in the optimum speed range. Formula E, for example, shows that both solutions operate at roughly the same level: some manufacturers drive with several gears, others with only one. Neither of the solutions has stood out as superior yet.
Further, ZF has been stocking up their BEV capacities: In June, the Group opened a new building for the electric mobility division in Schweinfurt, Germany. It offers space for 16 test benches and test facilities with which electric and hybrid drives as well as associated components can be tested.