Certain things such as oil and water, Klingons and Tribbles, Michael Bay and movies, and so on, are never supposed to mix. Another is General Motors and Ford, but the two companies have paired up to joint-develop nine- and 10-speed transmissions.
Huge rivals teaming up for nine and 10-speed transmissions
Some things aren’t meant to mix though sometimes, they do. For instance, the idea of Ford teaming up with General Motors for anything, let alone a joint project, might be considered heresy to some and yet, they are.
According to AutoBlog, Ford and GM are teaming up to jointly develop transmissions, namely automatic transmissions, for upcoming vehicles. Joining the recent trend of automatics to include a greater number of gears, the standard five gears is completely insufficient, so GM and Ford are both working on a nine and 10 speed transmission.
It isn’t a rumor; the two companies have even drafted a memorandum of agreement for the project, according to MotorTrend.
The idea is that General Motors will create a nine-speed transmission for use in front-drive applications and Ford will develop a 10-speed for use in rear-drive applications, such as trucks and performance vehicles.
The transmission gear arms race, as it were, is currently on, as more automakers race to build as many gears as possible into automatic transmissions. It used to be that four gears, or rather four forward gears, was the norm for automatics, then later it became five, reaching parity with manual transmissions.
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Luxury car makers and sports car companies, such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, started installing six, seven and eight-speed transmissions as the years passed. Currently, the larger car makers are following suit, such as the nine and 10 speed transmissions pending from GM and Ford. The transmissions that are developed are likely to appear in cars from both companies.
The reasons are actually great. More gears means engines don’t have to build as many revolutions per minute before getting to the next gear. Therefore, the engine and transmission stay within the “sweet spot” for fuel economy as fewer RPMs means less stress on the motor. The less work, the greater efficiency.
Aside from Ford and GM’s pending 10-speed transmission, other car makers are coming up with similar transmissions. Chrysler has been known to be working on a nine-speed for some time and Hyundai, according to AutoGuide, is also working on a 10-speed.
The greater number of gears in automatic transmissions has all but eliminated the fuel savings possible from manual transmissions. Granted, the greater gear ratios are likely to be offered in “eco” packages, which translates to more in auto loans, but it also means less gas consumed, good for the consumer but also for the new CAFE regulations.