Fiat Chrysler Automobiles last week inked a deal with ZF for one of the biggest orders of automatic transmissions in the German firm's history.

Normally the purchase of automatic transmissions wouldn't warrant an article but the ZF deal could provide insights into what FCA has planned for future versions of the beloved Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars.

FCA has ordered a fourth-generation version of ZF's 8HP 8-speed automatic transmission, designed for rear- and all-wheel-drive applications. The 8HP first arrived on the scene in 2008 and versions of the transmission can be found in a diverse range of cars including the current Challenger and Charger and even Bentleys and Rolls-Royces.

The fourth-generation version has the option to integrate an electric motor-generator, which will make it relatively easy to add plug-in hybrid capability to vehicles fitted with the transmission.

2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

"We are pleased being nominated as global transmission supplier by FCA,” ZF CEO Wolf-Henning Scheider said. “This is our second major order for the new 8HP and it confirms our strategy to focus on plug-in hybrids as an every-day solution and to develop attractive products in these areas.”

Considering FCA CEO Mike Manley said in January that electrification is more suitable for muscle cars going forward, as opposed to supercharged V-8s with 700 horsepower, don't be surprised if future versions of the Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat get a boost in performance from an electric motor integrated with the transmission.

Other FCA vehicles where we'll likely see the transmission fitted include next-generation Alfa Romeos and Maseratis, Ram pickup trucks, and larger Jeep models.

Unfortunately, production of the fourth-generation 8HP transmission is scheduled to commence in 2022, so we're still a few years out from seeing the first applications. It means a redesign of the Challenger and Charger isn't likely to happen before then.