Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. report they have a new joint-development agreement that aims to produce a new series of automatic transmissions for cars, crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. The two automakers said their engineering teams would work together to develop 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions in front- and rear-wheel drive variants.
In their announcement, Ford and GM said the new transmission would improve vehicle performance and increase fuel economy.
Once the new product has been established and is ready for commercialization, each automaker will manufacture its own transmissions in its own plants, using numerous common components.
“The goal is to keep hardware identical in the Ford and GM transmissions. This will maximize parts commonality and give both companies economy of scale,” stated Ford’s chief engineer Craig Renneker, of the automaker’s Transmission & Driveline Component & Pre-Program Engineering unit. “However, we will each use our own control softwareto ensure that each transmission is carefully matched to the individual brand-specific vehicle DNA for each company.”
Domestic automakers, including Chrysler Corp. as well as Ford and GM, are introducing new transmissions designed with multiple speeds will help to control fuel economy because the narrower gear ranges will give tighter control of engine performance. However, a second consideration is that the greater gear range will improve acceleration, enhancing vehicle performance.
Time-, Cost-Saving Development
The two companies did not indicate the scale of their mutual investment, nor the schedule for delivering the new products.
They noted, however, that their collaboration would allow each company to design, test, and introduce 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,” stated GEM v.p. of global transmission engineering Jim Lanzon. “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.”
The new project represents the third joint-development agreement for Ford and GM in the past decade. These previous programs led to more than 8 million 6-speed front-wheel drive transmissions installed worldwide. Those systems are installed in Ford Fusion sedans, the Edge crossover and the Escape and Explorer SUVs. Others are installed in a series of GM vehicles, including the Chevrolet Malibu, Traverse, Equinox, and Cruze.
These original collaborations served as a template for the new one. As before, each company will manufacture its own transmissions in its own plants with many common components.