General Motors and Ford will partner to build a new generation of automatic transmissions--nine-speed and ten-speed automatics that the companies will use to boost fuel economy across their lineups.
The U.S. automatic have worked together in the past to engineer automatic transmissions, to reduce the engineering and development costs. The six-speed automatic installed in many large GM and Ford crossovers--the Ford Flex, the GMC Acadia, and the Chevy Traverse among them--is a result of the companies' more recent joint efforts. So far, the companies have built more than 8 million gearboxes from that project.
The new transmissions will be used across both companies' lineups, in both front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive applications.
Ford and GM won't be the first to develop nine-speed automatic transmissions. Chrysler has one on the way in the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, while Land Rover announced recently that it's working on a nine-speed transmission with ZF. Ten-speed automatics would be a new development.
The transmissions are expected to hit the road within the next three years, with differences in programming to give each automaker its own approach to shift quality and economy.
Both GM and Ford rely heavily today on six-speed automatics, while some competitors like Lexus and Chrysler have moved quickly to eight-speed automatics, in the hunt for better fuel economy in their larger vehicles.
(c) 2013, High Gear Media.