General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are jointly working to boost fuel economy and so they’re developing new designs for nine- and 10-speed automatic transmissions to be used throughout their lineups. Three sources said that GM is the lead for the creation of a design for a nine-speed gearbox that will be used in front-wheel-drive vehicles. The sources added that Ford has the leadership role on a 10-speed transmission for rear-wheel-drive vehicles like pickups, SUVs and performance cars. One supplier source said that the companies started work on the transmission program in early 2012. They’re currently in the design phase and would probably not be ready to begin production before 2015. The project is likely to build considerable financial savings in engineering and product development for the two automakers.
These companies would merge the gearboxes with their individual engines through software and hardware. According to a GM spokesman, the two companies are engaged in talks and have inked a memorandum of understanding "to jointly develop a variety of all-new, fuel-efficient transmissions." He won’t talk about details and said that a “definitive agreement” may soon be announced. According to a Ford spokesman, they’re continually in discussions with other companies including GM. He didn’t provide details.
According to the New York Times, the companies are planning to co-develop automatic transmissions and are mulling over a manufacturing alliance. GM and Ford are intent on catching up with other automakers that have already started to offer gearboxes ranging from seven to nine speeds to the market. Chrysler Group, via a joint venture with ZF Friedrichshafen, is offering an eight-speed automatic in the Chrysler 300 sedan and the 2013 Ram pickup. It also plans to sell a 9-speed automatic transmission licensed from ZF. Eight-speed gearboxes are being offered by Audi, BMW and Lexus. Meanwhile, a seven-speed is offered by Mercedes-Benz.