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by Tim Beissmann

 

Two of the automotive industry’s fiercest rivals, Ford and General Motors, will collaborate on new nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions for their next-generation vehicles.

Designed for both front- and rear-wheel-drive applications and expected to launch from mid-decade, the new transmissions are intended to improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy.

The collaboration marks the third time the duo has partnered on transmission technology over the past decade, having previously worked together on six-speed auto gearboxes.

GM vice president of global transmission engineering Jim Lanzon said the partnership would allow both manufacturers to design, develop, engineer, test, validate and deliver the new transmissions faster and at lower cost than if each company worked independently.

“Engineering teams from GM and Ford have already started initial design work on these new transmissions,” Lanzon said.

“We expect these new transmissions to raise the standard of technology, performance and quality for our customers while helping drive fuel economy improvements into both companies’ future product portfolios.”

Ford chief engineer for transmission and driveline component and pre-program engineering Craig Renneker said that like earlier collaborations each company would build its own transmissions in its own plants with many common components.

“The goal is to keep hardware identical in the Ford and GM transmissions,” Renneker said. “This will maximise parts commonality and give both companies economy of scale.

“However, we will each use our own control software to ensure that each transmission is carefully matched to the individual brand-specific vehicle DNA for each company.”

In a joint statement, Ford and GM said further technical details and vehicle applications for their all-new nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions would be revealed closer to their introduction into new models.

Although still to be officially confirmed, Hyundai is understood to be developing a 10-speed automatic transmission of its own for larger Hyundai and Kia vehicles.

Commenting on the seemingly endless addition of ratios to transmissions in the automotive world, ZF Asia Pacific managing director Joseph McCorry recently told CarAdvice he believed nine gears represented something akin to ‘maximum efficiency’ and questioned the value of gearboxes with more speeds.




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