The new 7-speed ZF EcoLife Offroad automatic transmission has been redesigned and enhanced specifically for off-road use. It makes the vehicle run more efficiently, enables it to handle more than 2,600 newton meters of engine torque, improves acceleration and shifts gears based on changing topography. EcoLife Offroad is the new and improved successor generation of the ZF Ecomat family, which has been successfully deployed worldwide for decades.
ZF’s EcoLife Offroad transmission system is designed to handle tough off-road conditions and meets all demands placed on stationary pumping systems for oil and gas production, off-road, multi-axle or all-wheel-drive special-purpose vehicles. The electronics in this transmission system are precisely configured to the vehicle and relieve the driver of clutch and shift work. An electronic monitoring system prevents any operating error.
EcoLife Offroad measurably improves acceleration, shifts gears to meet changing topography and can handle input torques exceeding 2,600 newton meters, which are transmitted without tractive force interruption. This transmission is thus compatible with current and future engine generations.
When it comes to other important criteria, the new ZF transmission also offers clear advantages over comparable competitor products. Ten is the new higher total gear ratio spread that helps the respective vehicle to reach high speeds while significantly improving its climbing capability. Also, combined with its new torque converter, which features an integrated torsional damper, the new transmission guarantees smooth starts, good acceleration and smooth driving even at low engine speeds, both on the road and up extreme off-road inclines. Moreover, the torque converter lock-up clutch, also integrated in the torque converter, can close even at idling speed, thus ensuring more efficiency and reducing fuel consumption.
The vehicle can reach outstanding acceleration figures thanks to its new control function which takes the engine through the permissible converter turbine torque. This helps fire-fighting vehicles, for example, to get to the site of an accident or fire faster so that rescuers can save lives.
In a dry state, the EcoLife Offroad basic transmission only weighs approximately 450 kilograms. Only about 900 millimeters long, it is also very compact which saves valuable installation space. An additional plus is that its helical toothed planetary gearsets make this automatic transmission noticeably quiet.
Also, the ZF retarder – a hydrodynamic, zero-wear continuous service break – is yet another component directly integrated into the transmission. It proves its value particularly on long downhill gradients. By effectively applying a max. 1,900 newton meters of braking torque, it slows the vehicle down without interruption even when shifting, which relieves stress on the service brakes. Lower wear and tear also means a 90-percent reduction in operating costs.
EcoLife Offroad can also accommodate potential auxiliary power units. Two power take-offs with a maximum 1,000 newton meters of torque are available as an optional feature.
The electronic transmission control unit with its expanded functionality is also impressive. If the vehicle manufacturer sends the torques removed from the power take-offs to the transmission via the CAN bus, the transmission control unit regulates the engine so that the driveline, which consists of the transmission, cardan shaft and axle, is never overloaded. The engine’s excess power is therefore available, without restriction, to the other power consumers in the vehicle.
Thanks to this intelligent function, the EcoLife transmission works together with engines, which, without the extra power, would otherwise require a much larger transmission. This configuration saves costs, weight and valuable installation space.
Viable for the future
EcoLife Offroad comes with a dual cooling system consisting of an integrated transmission oil cooler and a separate oil cooler for retarder and torque converter operation. This configuration makes the ZF automatic transmission viable for the future for another reason: It has been designed from the ground up to accommodate higher cooling water temperatures required by new engines in order to meet increasingly stringent exhaust emission standards such as Euro 6, EEV, or EPA 10. Last but not least, the EcoLife Offroad transmission system helps make stationary pumping systems for oil and gas production, heavy trucks and special-purpose vehicles more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly.
To keep wiring work to a minimum, the electronic control unit is directly mounted onto the transmission. Programmed specifically for each particular vehicle, it communicates with other vehicle components via a standardized CAN bus interface (CAN SAE J1939).