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Fuel-Efficient 9- And 10-Speed Auto Transmissions Coming From GM, Ford

 
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Six-speed automatic previously developed by Ford and GM

Six-speed automatic previously developed by Ford and GM

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The modern automotive business is a funny thing, making bedfellows of the unlikeliest of couples.

Ford and General Motors don't collaborate often, but when they do it's usually on a transmission. This tradition continues as both companies announce an agreement to co-develop new 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions, aimed at increasing the efficiency of their vehicles.

It's the third time in a decade the two companies have co-developed transmissions, previously working on a six-speed automatic for front-wheel drive applications.

The new 9- and 10-speed units under development will be used across each carmaker's range of cars, SUVs, trucks and crossovers. Like other multi-speed units, the new designs seek to maximize economy while delivering the kind of performance that buyers now demand.

Ten speeds really will mark Ford and GM out from the competition though, with more gears than any other manufacturer is currently working on. Transmission firm ZF recently announced it is working on a nine-speed auto, initially expected in to debut with Land Rover.

As emission and fuel consumption regulations tighten, transmissions with seven to ten gears are increasingly common. Modern technology makes their operation almost imperceptible to most drivers, yet the plethora of ratios enables the engine to work within its most efficient range more often.

By co-developing the transmissions, both companies are set to save hundreds of millions of dollars in development costs. Both will also benefit from economies of scale, with as much parts commonality between manufacturers as possible.

Only the software settings will differ, allowing each carmaker to tailor the transmission's behavior to suit the car engine it's matched with.

The agreement should also help both companies get a jump on competitors, as the combined resources of Ford and GM can be applied to speed the new gearboxes to market.

According to The Detroit News, we could see the new transmissions in the next three years.

It isn't clear which vehicles will benefit from the new units, but each company will announce specification details and vehicle applications closer to launch.

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Comments (7)
  1. Why not just make a transmission with infinite speeds? Hey, wait, it's already been done: CVT!
     
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    Bad stuff?

     
  2. My Nissan is so efficient, I get about 40 mpg for a 16k car. If I try real hard, i can get almost 60 on the highway, when the planets align.
     
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  3. Let me know when you find a CVT that 95% of drivers do not detest. Otherwise, you're comparing the worst possible driving transmission, a CVT, to one that is far better to drive.

    For anyone other than the poorest of the poor, there's little interest in most vehicles with a CVT. Nissan can make as many as it wants, like most drivers in N. America, if it has a CVT, it's not going in my garage. It's bad enough that my wife's Prius has a horrendous CVT, as if it wasn't abysmal to drive without a horrible transmission as well.

    There's a point for most drivers where driving a horrible vehicle is not worth it, IMHO, and the CVT simply isn't worth the extra efficiency it provides. Drive a Sonic or Dart and compare them to a Prius or Sentra.
     
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  4. @Robok: For what it's worth, we've found Subaru's CVT to be among the least annoying. And most CVT makers have added programming to tighten the ratios temporarily on hard acceleration to behave more like a "conventional" car, meaning the engine speed doesn't soar and the trans actually holds a ratio to give you close-to-linear performance.

    Most CVT makers are well aware of the perception issue among knowledgeable drivers. But the majority of Americans may not even notice the difference--especially in larger, pricier, and better-noise-insulated models.

    CVTs are, for better or worse, here to stay along with these rather remarkable new automatics.
     
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  5. @robok2 your remark...For anyone other than the poorest of the poor, there's little interest in most vehicles with a CVT....says plenty about you but has little bearing on ones choice of purchase or the individuals choosing. You use the term IMHO, take not of that third letter and what it means.
     
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  6. GM and Ford should invest in perfecting the CVT's (by far simpler than their counterparts) instead of keeping adding gears, with the extra weight, size, and increasing lubrication issues they will bring along.
     
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  7. Why don't they just produce a diesel engine that will increase the MPG much more than a 38 speed transmission?
     
    Post Reply
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    Bad stuff?

 

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