ZF Marine Launches Industry’s First 2 Speed Transmission for Outboard

Image by ZF Marine
Image by ZF Marine

Published Apr 26, 2021 6:22 PM by The Maritime Executive

ZF Marine presents its new two-speed transmission, an industry-first, as part of the new V12 Verado outboard engine developed by Mercury Marine. After four years of partnership and collaboration, the new engine was officially launched Feb 11, 2021.

Two Speed Ahead: ZF Marine launches industry’s first two-speed transmission for outboards
Following four years of collaborative development with Mercury Marine, ZF is now presenting the industry’s first two-speed transmission for outboards. Production of the transmission has begun at ZF Marine’s facility in Arco, Italy.

"This project emphasizes our leading position in propulsion technology and successful collaboration with our long-standing partner Mercury Marine" said Federico Decio, Vice President Industrial Technology, Pleasure Craft Business, ZF. ”The collaboration was defined with the objective of developing the most powerful and innovative engine in the market, and Mercury has the utmost trust in ZF Marine as a partner.”

The result of the partnership is the powerful 7.6L V12 600hp Verado engine that has already been labeled a “game changer” in the marine market. The impressive V12 outboard includes many innovative solutions, including the industry’s first automatic two-speed hydraulic transmission. The transmission is capable of handling 534 lb-ft of torque at a weight of just 121 lbs.

Well-known Concept for a New Application

Two-speed technology for marine applications is well-known by ZF but has never been applied to outboard applications. Optimal selection of the reduction ratio for each gear allows the engine to achieve improved acceleration, higher efficiency, and more thrust while reducing noise. The new two-speed outboard transmission delivers maximum torque and acceleration in the first gear to help vessels get up on plane, then silently shifts to the second gear for cruising efficiency and thrilling top speed. Shifting is almost undetectable.

The transmission includes a vertical wet clutch layout with precise shifting driven by proportional valves. This arrangement provides unmatched trolling capabilities at low speed and allows the transmission to shift seamlessly between the two gears. Furthermore, the proportional valves optimize vessel performance during docking and low-speed maneuvering, producing smooth and precise vessel movements, especially in combination with the joystick control system.

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