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Report: Parts-Maker ZF Says Production Ready Technology Can Cut Fuel-Consumption by 18%

New fuel-saving drivelines and transmissions will appear starting in 2010

 |  Aug 05 2009, 11:21 AM

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Auto parts maker and engineering firm ZF Friedrichshafen AG says that its new lineup of driveline modifications and transmissions, when combined, can deliver up to 18 percent better fuel-consumption on traditional gasoline powered cars. The results are even more impressive for hybrids, with total fuel-economy rising 30 percent.

Harald Naunheimer, VP of research at ZF delivered the news at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan, earlier this week. Naunheimer said all of his company’s new initiatives will make their way into production cars starting next year.

Included in the list of fuel-saving technologies are lighter transmissions with more gears, as well as electric, rather than mechanical, features. Electrical power steering can account for a savings of 2 to 3 percent, while electric active roll stabilizers add another 1 to 2 percent.

A start-stop function, which shuts off the engine at stop lights or when stuck in traffic, can save up to 5 percent while a new, lighter transfer case for all-wheel drive cars can add an additional 1 to 1.5 percent.

The single largest way to boost fuel-economy, however, is with a transmission with more gears. ZF says its new 8-speed box can deliver a 6 percent boost in fuel economy over a six-speed unit. Lexus already uses an 8-speed transmission and BMW recently launched a new 8-speed box in the flagship 760Li (pictured above). This, however, raises the issue of cost.

With an 8-speed in a six-figure BMW, we’re unlikely to see the same technology make it into a Toyota Corolla any time soon. Still, the race is on for improved fuel-consumption as the Obama Administration’s new CAFE regulations will see fleet averages for passenger cars rise to 35.5 mpg for 2016, up significantly from 27.3 mpg for 2011.

[Source: Automotive News]